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Cowtail Stingray (Pastinachus sephen)

Cowtail Stingray (Pastinachus sephen)

All text on this page is copyright protected: © 2014 Kelvin Aitken.
All rights reserved. Students may use this information for personal research only. Not for commercial use.

Order: Myliobatiformes
Family: Dasyatidae
Genus: Pastinachus
Species: sephen
Taxonomic name: Pastinachus sephen
Other Common Names: Banana-tail Ray, Cowtail Ray, Drab Stingray, Frantail Ray, Fantail Stingray, Fantailed Stingray, Fantailed Ray, Gundurru.

Cowtail Stingrays are large rays found in tropical waters across the north of Australia. They grow to a maximum size of nearly 2 m and are common on reefs, usually seen resting in caves or deep ledges on sand. They are a uniform dark grey to black with a very long tapering tail, the underside of which has a a long narrow flap or ‘banner’ of skin that starts beneath the single barbed spine and ends before the whip-like tip, which is sometimes missing on older animals.

While it may enter fresh water at times, the Cowtail Stingray (Pastinachus sephen) is usually found in sandy areas around coral reefs where it forages for crabs, small fish, worms and shellsed invertebrates which it crushes in its plate-like teeth. It will usually sit quietly when approached by divers or may even swim in for a close look. Although it is considered harmless, care should be taken of its large barbed spine.

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