Animal Species:Australian Cownose Ray, Rhinoptera neglecta Ogilby, 1912

Cownose rays are usually found in large schools near the surface. They have a distinctive bi-lobed head, with two large fleshy lobes under the snout. The mouth is on the underside.

Standard Common Name

Australian Cownose Ray


The Australian Cownose Ray can be recognised by its unusual bi-lobed head. Under the snout are two large fleshy lobes. These are often mistaken as the entrance to the mouth. The mouth however, is on the ventral surface (underneath) the fish.

The species is dark greyish dorsally (on top) and white ventrally (underneath). It has a single dorsal fin, and a whip-like tail, with one or more serrated spines near the base. The spines have been damaged in the specimen in the images, and are not visible.

Two species of cownose ray occur in Australian waters. The second is the Javanese Cownose Ray, Rhinoptera javanica which occurs in northern Queensland and the Northern Territory.

Size range

Maximum disc width is about 86 cm.


The species has been recorded from off Arnhem Land, Northern Territory and along the east coast of Australia, from Cairns, northern Queensland to the central coast of New South Wales.

The dead fish in the images was caught near Wattamolla, New South Wales, and is a new southern record for the species. It was captured in April 1999, and brought to the Australian Museum by D. Reid of NSW Fisheries. It is a male, 1120 cm in length, 85.5 cm across the pectoral fins (the "wings"), and weighs approximately 13 kg.

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.

Rhinoptera neglecta

Distribution by collection data

Ozcam map of Australian Cownose Ray specimens in the Australian Museums.

What does this mean?


The family Rhinopteridae contains only one genus, Rhinoptera, with ten species.  They occur in tropical and subtropical seas worldwide. They are most abundant in coastal waters and often enter estuaries.

Feeding and Diet

The flat, plate-like teeth are used to crush and grind crustaceans and other invertebrates.



What does this mean?


  1. Gloerfelt-Tarp, T & P.J. Kailola. 1984. Trawled Fishes of southern Indonesia and north-western Australia. Jakarta: Directorate General of Fisheries (Indonesia), German Agency for Technical Cooperation, Australian Development Assistance Bureau. Pp. 406.
  2. Grant, E.M. 1982. Guide to Fishes. The Department of Harbours and Marine, Brisbane, Queensland. Pp. 896.
  3. Last, P.R. & J.D. Stevens. 2009. Sharks and Rays of Australia. Edition 2. CSIRO. Pp. 644, Pl. 1-91.

Mark McGrouther , Senior Fellow
Last Updated:

Tags fishes, ichthyology, Australian Cownose Ray, Rhinoptera neglecta, Myliobatidae, large schools, surface, bi-lobed head, mouth underneath, dark grey, white underside, whip-like tail, tropical water, marine, adult, subtropical water, coastal water, estuary,