Animal Species:Shark Ray, Rhina ancylostoma Bloch & Schneider, 1801

The Shark Ray has distictive large thorns on the bony ridges on the head and has a quite attractive bluish grey colouring to it's surface. The species is generally found in tropical and subtropical coastal waters and offshore reefs, feeding on crabs and shellfish.

Standard Common Name

Shark Ray

Alternative Name/s

Bowmouth Guitarfish, Mud Skate


The Shark Ray is a very distinctive, deep-bodied fish. The upper surface is blue-grey with white spots. There is a large blue-edged, black blotch above each pectoral fin and dark bands between the eyes. This colouration is often not as distinct in large individuals which may only have faint markings.

Some of the most obvious features of this species are the wide, blunt snout, the large thorns on the bony ridges on the head and the large spiracles. The tail of this species is much longer than the disc.

The Shark Ray belongs in the family Rhinchobatidae (the guitarfishes). Two of the characters that separate the guitarfishes from other fishes are the well developed lower caudal fin lobe and the distinct demarcation between the head and pectoral fins.

In Australia the family Rhinchobatidae contains two species, the Shark Ray, and the White-spotted Guitarfish, Rhynchobatus djiddensis.

Size range

The Shark Ray grows to 3 m in length.


It occurs widely in the Indo-Pacific. In Australia it is known from Exmouth Gulf, Western Australia, around the tropical north of the country and south to the central coast of New South Wales.

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

Rhina ancylostoma

Distribution by collection data

Ozcam map of Shark Ray specimens in the Australian Museums.

What does this mean?


The species has been recorded from tropical and subtropical coastal waters and offshore reefs.

Feeding and Diet

It uses its flattened pavement-like teeth to feed on crabs and shellfish.

Danger to humans and first aid

The Shark Ray is not dangerous to humans.



What does this mean?


  1. Last, P.R. & J.D. Stevens. 1994. Sharks and Rays of Australia. CSIRO. Pp. 513, Pl. 1-84.


Mark McGrouther , Senior Fellow
Last Updated:

Tags fish, ichthyology, shark ray, Rhina ancylostoma, Rhinidae, large thorns on head, bony ridges on head, spots, dots/spots, subtropical water, coastal water, marine, adult, offshore reef, bluish grey, dark bands between eyes, blunt snout, wide snout, guitar fish, > 2m, stripes or bands,