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Rays and skates are closely related to sharks and all are members of the group of fish called elasmobranchs. This group all have cartilaginous skeletons and 5 or more gill slits on each side. 

Dive in below to learn more. 


  • Some lay egg cases ( oviparous) and some give birth to live young ( viviparous)

  • Dorsoventrally flattened

  • Enlarged pectoral fins 

  • Dorsally positioned eyes

  • Ventrally positioned mouths, gill, and nostrils

  • Fossil record for rays goes as far back as 150 mya

  • Largest ray is the Giant Manta Ray

  • Many stingrays coloration reflects the color of their environment- they can camouflage

  • The tail of a stingray often contains a serrated barb

    • This barb may produce venom

  • Encompasses 3 orders:

    • Rhinopristiformes

      • Sawfishes

      • Guitarfishes
      • ​Wedgefishes

    • Myliobatiformes

      • Stingrays

        • 300+ extant species

        • The “common” appearance of a stingray

    • Torpediniformes

      • Electric rays

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Lesser Electric Ray
(Narcine bancroftii)
Image: Gabriel Jensen 

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Giant ( Oceanic) Manta Ray
(Manta birostris- now Mobula birostris)
Image: Jillian Morris

Spotted Eagle Ray
(Aetobatus narinari)
Image: Sophie Hart

Southern Stingray ( Hypanus americanus)
Image: Jillian Morris

Yellow stingray mating 1 .jpg

Yellow Stingrays (Urobatis jamaicensis) mating
Image: Kelly Tyler 


  • Oviparous

    • Eggs are known as “mermaid purses”

  • Similar in appearance to rays

  • Small teeth

  • Generally much smaller than rays

  • Common skate is the largest skate at 250 cm

  • They do not have spines

  • Carnivorous

  • Order Rajiformes

    • Family Rajidae

  • Most skates have dorsal spines

  • Some skates have weak electrical organs that potentially allow them to communicate with other skates

  • Pelvic fins can be used as modified feet- can be seen using them to “walk” on the seafloor

ThornySkate Andy Murch.jpg
Andy Murch skaye.jpg

Thorny Skate
(Amblyraja radiata)
Image: Andy Murch

Biscuit Skate
(Raja straeleni) )
Image: Andy Murch


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Southern stingray low.jpg
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BowmouthGuitarfish low_V1.jpg
S4K_FactSheet_OceanicMantaRay low_V1.jpg


Click the image to download 

Sawfish infographic low.jpg
S S ray infographic low.jpg
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