Animal Species:Smooth Stingray, Dasyatis brevicaudata (Hutton, 1875)

The Smooth Stingray is the largest of all Australian stingrays (Family Dasyatidae). It grows to 4.3 m in length, 2 m disc width and a weight of 350 kg. It usually has irregular rows of small white spots on the upper surface.

Standard Common Name

Smooth Stingray

Identification

The Smooth Stingray usually has irregular rows of small white spots on the upper surface beside the head and no thorn-like denticles along the dorsal midline of the disc. It has a relatively short tail, less than 1.2 times the disc length. This gives the fish its species name, brevicaudata, which comes from the Latin brevis, meaning 'short', and cauda meaning 'tail'. View footage of an albino individual.

Size range

The Smooth Stingray is the largest of all Australian stingrays. It grows to 4.3 m in length, 2 m disc width and a weight of 350 kg.

Similar Species

The species looks very similar to the Black Stingray. They are both dark above, pale below and have a whip-like tail. The Black Stingray lacks white spots but does have thorn-like denticles along the dorsal midline of the disc.

Distribution

The Smooth Stingray occurs in Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. In Australia it is known from southern Queensland, around the south of the country and north to the central coast of Western Australia.

The map below shows the Australian distribution of the species based on public sightings and specimens in Australian Museums. Click on the map for detailed information.  Source: Atlas of Living Australia.

Dasyatis brevicaudata

Distribution by collection data

Ozcam map of Smooth Stingray specimens in the Australian Museums.

What does this mean?

Habitat

It is a bottom-dwelling species which is recorded from temperate waters. It lives in coastal waters and estuaries from shallow water down to about 170 m.

Danger to humans and first aid

The Smooth Stingray is not aggressive and is often observed by divers. It usually has one venomous spine (the sting) halfway along the tail which is capable of inflicting severe or potentially fatal wounds. This species is sometimes observed raising its tail above its back like a scorpion.

Classification

Species:
brevicaudata
Genus:
Dasyatis
Family:
Dasyatidae
Order:
Myliobatiformes
Class:
Chondrichthyes
Subphylum:
Vertebrata
Phylum:
Chordata
Kingdom:
Animalia

What does this mean?

References

  1. Brown, R.W. 1956. Composition of Scientific Words. R. W. Brown. Pp. 882.
  2. Last, P.R. in Gomon, M.F, C.J.M. Glover & R.H. Kuiter (Eds). 1994. The Fishes of Australia's South Coast. State Print, Adelaide. Pp. 992.
  3. Hutchins, B. & R. Swainston. 1986. Sea Fishes of Southern Australia. Complete Field Guide for Anglers and Divers. Swainston Publishing. Pp. 180.
  4. Kuiter, R.H. 1993. Coastal Fishes of South-Eastern Australia. Crawford House Press. Pp. 437.
  5. Last, P.R. & J.D. Stevens. 1994 Sharks and Rays of Australia. CSIRO. Pp. 513.


Mark McGrouther , Collection Manager, Ichthyology
Last Updated:

Tags fishes, ichthyology, Smooth Stingray, Dasyatis brevicaudata, Dasyatidae, ray, stingray, smooth, largest, > 2m, 350kg, white spots, dots/spotted, thorn-like denticles, short tail, pale underside, bottom-dwelling, marine, adult, temperate water, coastal water, shallow, estuaries, venomous spine, not aggressive, scorpion,

3 comments

tonyklein - 10.01 PM, 10 January 2010
I saw a similar large stingray while snorkelling at Rickets' Point too but then an even bigger one near Williamstown beach, on January 8, 2010 - see picture.

Comment Attachment

davesalter - 7.01 AM, 02 January 2010
Diving in 2m of water at the Rickets Point Marine Park (Port Philip Bay, Victoria), we encountered a Smooth Ray about 1.5m across the disc. It cruised within 3m and seemed as curious as we were.
taragreen - 10.11 PM, 25 November 2009
i am positive i saw a smooth stingray when diving at north head near whats called 'the wedding cake' it was the biggest thing i have ever seen under water and as gracefull as a bird in flight it looked as big as a bus driving by obviously things appear bigger through goggles so maybe it was as big as a minny bus.sydney australia.

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