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Electric Rays. Narcinidae & Torpedinidae species.

Blotched Fantail Ray (Taeniura meyeni)

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: Torpediniformes
Family: Narcinidae (numbfishes) with subfamily Narcininae & subfamily Narkinae (sleeper rays)
Family Torpedinidae (torpedo electric rays) and subfamily Hypninae (coffin rays) & subfamily Torpedininae (Torpedo Rays)
Genus: Narke
Species: japonica
Taxonomic name (of species shown above): Narke japonica
Other Common Names: Japanese Numbray

Two species of electric rays are found in shallow water and four other species that are usually picked up by trawlers live in deeper waters. As the name suggests, all have one asset in common: the ability to deliver an electric shock, which may be anything from a mild tingle to a body-contorting blow.

The Numbfish or Numbray, also known as the Coffin Ray (Hypnos monopterygium) (a name not due to any deadly attributes but to the shape of specimens that have been dried out in the sun), can be found in shallow water down to below 200 m. Their brown colouring can vary from pale pink to chocolate, sometimes with a blotchy or sandy pattern.

Numbfish are usually found buried in sand or silt waiting for they prey to swim within striking distance. When a crab or fish comes too close it is hit with an electric charge that stuns it so that the ray can feed without fear of retaliation or injury. This animal is capable of delivering a severe electric shock, as many divers and anglers have found, and it should be left alone.

Numbfish are found camouflaged beneath a layer of sand with just their eyes and spiracles protruding. To tempt prey to within striking range some Numbfish have a small black worm that lives on the eye or spiracle. Its colour is in stark contrast to the sand and it performs a constant swaying dance which attracts fish to the ray. This is a commensal, not a parasitic, relationship as both the ray and worm benefit.

Currently the Numbfishes, Torpedo Rays, Sleeper Rays, and Electric Rays are divided into families, sub families and genus as shown below:

Family Narcinidae (numbfishes)
Subfamily Narcininae
Genus Benthobatis
Genus Diplobatis
Genus Discopyge
Genus Narcine
Subfamily Narkinae (sleeper rays)
Genus Crassinarke
Genus Electrolux
Genus Heteronarce
Genus Narke
Genus Temera
Genus Typhlonarke
Family Torpedinidae (torpedo electric rays)
Subfamily Hypninae (coffin rays)
Genus Hypnos
Subfamily Torpedininae
Genus Torpedo

Current list of species in our database:

Ocellated Numbfish (Diplobatis ommata)
Numb Ray (Hypnos monopterygium)
Lesser Electric Ray (Narcine bancroftii)
Brazillian Numbfish (Narcine braziliensis)
Giant Numbfish (Narcine entemedor)
Tasmanian Numbfish (Narcine tasmaniensis)
Japanese Numbray (Narke japonica)
Pacific Electric Ray (Torpedo californica)
Short-tailed Torpedo Ray (Torpedo macneilli)
Spotted Torpedo Ray (Torpedo marmorata)
Trapezoid Torpedo Ray (Torpedo tokionis) or Longtailed Torpedo Ray.
Komodo Torpedo Ray (Torpedo sp.)

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