Pastinachus sephen Click to enlarge image
A Cowtail Stingray at a depth of 4m, North West Island, Queensland, November 2004. Image: S. Schulz
© S. Schulz

Fast Facts

  • Classification
    Species
    ater
    Genus
    Pastinachus
    Family
    Dasyatidae
    Order
    Myliobatiformes
    Class
    Chondrichthyes
    Subphylum
    Vertebrata
    Phylum
    Chordata
    Kingdom
    Animalia
  • Size Range
    It grows to a total length of at least 3 m and width of 1.8 m.

Introduction

Not surprisingly, the Cowtail Stingray's name refers to its unusual tail. The species is common in inshore tropical waters, venturing into estuaries and sometimes freshwater. They tend to be inquisitive and approach closely if fish have been speared.



Identification

The Cowtail Stingray has a disc that is slightly wider than long. It has small eyes and a very wide interorbital space. The tail is about twice the length of the disc. The upper surface of the disc is a uniform grey, brown or black. The lower surface is white. The tail is depressed basally becoming more cylindrical distally. The broad skin flap and tip of the tail are black.



Habitat

It can be found in muddy and sandy substrates in estuarine mangrove areas and inshore waters down to about 60 m in depth.

Distribution

The species occurs in tropical marine waters of the Indo-West Pacific. In Australia it is known from the central coast of Western Australia, around the tropical north of the country and south to the central coast of New South Wales .



References

  1. Allen, G.R. 1997. Marine Fishes of Tropical Australia and South-east Asia. Western Australian Museum. Pp. 292 (as P. sephen)
  2. Hoese, D.F., Bray, D.J., Paxton, J.R. & G.R. Allen. 2006. Fishes. In Beesley, P.L. & A. Wells. (eds) Zoological Catalogue of Australia. Volume 35. ABRS & CSIRO Publishing: Australia. parts 1-3, pages 1-2178.
  3. Last, P.R. & L.J.V. Compagno. 1999. Dasyatidae. in Carpenter, K.E. & V.H. Niem (Eds). FAO Species Identification Guide for Fishery Purposes. The Living Marine Resources of the Western Central Pacific. Volume 3. Batoid fishes, chimaeras and bony fishes part 1 (Elopidae to Linophrynidae). FAO, Rome. Pp. iii-vi, 1398-2068.(as P. atrus)