Dasyatidae (whiptail stingrays)

Life > Eukaryotes > Opisthokonta > Metazoa (animals) > Bilateria > Deuterostomia > Chordata > Craniata > Vertebrata (vertebrates)  > Gnathostomata (jawed vertebrates) > Chondrichthyes > Elasmobranchii > Batoidei >  Myliobatoidei

These flat stingrays have a whiplike tail without dorsal or caudal fins. 61 species, 13 in the area.

Species found in southern Africa

Dasyatis brevicaudatus (Shorttail stingray)

A huge, thick, plain stingray with a bluntly angular snout and pectoral disk with rounded tips, thick-based tail less than body length (longer in young), and a small upper and long lower caudal finfold, the lower not reaching tail tip. Disk smooth except for a large slender thorn on tail in front of stings; often two stings, the front one small, the rear sting huge. Colour grey-brown or bluish-grey above, with a row of small pale blue spots at each pectoral fin base, white below, tail plain

Dasyatis chrysonota (Blue stingray)

An angular stingray with conspicuous bright blue blotches and branching lines on a golden brown disk. Snout and disk angular, tail less than twice body length, a short upper caudal finfold and a longer lower one which falls far in front of tail tip, disk without thorns, and usually 1 sting. Underside white, tail darker and without bands.

Dasyatis kuhlii (Bluespotted stingray)

A small colourful angular stingray with small, round, bright blue eyespots on a reddish-brown background, tail only as long as body and with conspicuous black and white rings. Snout very short and broadly angular, disk angular, a short upper caudal finfold and a longer lower one that ends well behind tail tip, disk without thorns, and usually one sting on tail. Underside white.

Dasyatis thetidis (Thorntail stingray)

A huge plain dark stingray with a broadly angular snout and pectoral disk, thick-based tail tapering to a slender whip much longer than body length, no upper caudal finfold but a long lower caudal finfold that ends far in front of tail tip, and upper disk and tail roughened by large flat thorns in large juveniles and adults (absent in small individuals); 1 or 2 stings on tail.

Himantura sp. near fai (Roundnose stingray)

A plain dark angular stingray with a bluntly pointed snout, long slender tail over twice body length when intact, no caudal finfolds, and no large thorns. A band of small flat denticles along midback and usually one medium-sized sting on tail. Colour black to grey-blue above, underside white, tail without contrasting bands.

Himantura gerrardi (Sharpnose stingray)

A plain light angular stingray with a sharply pointed snout, long slender tail over twice body length when intact, no caudal finfolds, and no large thorns. A band of small flat denticles along midback and usually one medium-sized sting on tail. Colour light brown above, white below, tail with transverse bands of light and dark brown which may fade in adults.

Himantura jenkinsii (Dragon stingray)

An angular stingray with a conspicuous band of enlarged, erect, hooked, rough thorns on midline of disk, small dark brown spots on rear margin of disk, and no caudal finfolds. Snout angular, disk with broadly rounded tips, tail slender and slightly greater than body length, and a single sting on tail. Colour brown above, with light rear margin, tail darker, disk white below with darker tan margin.

Himantura cf. marginata (Dark whipray)

 

Himantura cf. uarnak (Honeycomb stingray)

A huge angular stingray with conspicuous dark spots on a light brown disk, these well-spaced in young but crowded to form a reticulated pattern in adults, and bands of black and white on its tail. Snout sharply pointed, outer corners of disk narrowly rounded, long slender tail nearly three times body length when intact, no caudal finfolds, disk without thorns but with a band of flat denticles along midback in adults and usually one medium-sized sting on tail. Underside white.

Pastinachus sephen (Feathertail stingray)

A large dark, plain angular stingray with a long, broad based tail with a high lower caudal finfold 2 to 3 times depth of tail but not reaching tail tip. Snout and disk angular, tail less than twice body length, no upper finfold, no large thorns, and one or two long stings on tail, these farther behind tail base than most other stingrays. Has unique hexagonal, high-crowned rough teeth that may allow it to grind and crush harder prey than most other stingrays. Colour brown or black above but without distinctive markings, underside white.

Pteroplatytrygon violacea (Pelagic stingray)

A dark thick stingray, uniformly purplish-violet or dark blue-green on both surfaces. Snout broadly rounded but pectoral disk angular, eyes not protruding from head (unlike other stingrays, which have froglike periscopic eyes), tail less than twice body length and with a long lower caudal finfold that ends far in front of tail tip but no upper fold. Disk without thorns, usually one extremely long sting on tail.

Taeniura lymma (Bluespotted ribbontail ray)

A colourful stingray with large bright blue spots on its elongated oval disk and blue side stripes along its tail. Snout rounded-angular, outer corners of disk broadly rounded, tail stout, tapering, less than twice body length when intact, a broad lower caudal finfold that reaches tail tip, no large thorns but with small flat denticles along midback in adults, and usually one medium-sized sting on tail further behind its base than in most stingrays. Colour grey-brown to yellow or reddish brown above, underside white.

Taeniura meyen (Round ribbontail ray)

A huge dark circular stingray with dark grey to black blotches and spots, a short stout tapering tail about as long as body length, and a broad lower caudal finfold that reaches tail tip. Snout broadly rounded, outer corners of disk broadly rounded, disk without thorns but covered by small star-shaped denticles in adults, and one or two medium-sized stings on tail. Colour blue-grey above with grey to black spots and blotches, white below.

Urogymnus asperrimus (Porcupine ray)

A stingless, heavily armoured stingray with an elongated, oval, white to light grey disk and slender blackish tail without finfolds. Snout broadly rounded, disk very thick with broadly rounded outer corners, tail about as long as body. Young have large flat denticles on upper surface; large juveniles and adults develop additional huge sharp conical thorns and small pointed denticles, making them extremely rough and difficult to handle. Underside white.

Text by Leonard J.V. Compagno, David A. Ebert and Malcolm J. Smale


  Iziko Museums of Cape Town, 2008

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