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Spotted Eagle Ray

Aetobatus narinari


  • Broadly angular disc with pointed pectoral tips, twice as wide as it is long with strongly concave back edge
  • Dark brown to black with series of lighter spots/circles on the back (top of disc); white to gray underside
  • Snout pointed with large fleshy “duck-bill” shaped projection above the mouth (subrostral lobe)
  • A single dorsal fin is near the base of a whip-like tail followed by one or more venomous spines

Similar Species

Cownose Ray, Rhinoptera bonasus (no spots on back, blunt snout); Bullnose Ray, Myliobatis freminvillei (no spots on back, blunt snout)


Wingspan (disc width) up to 9.8 feet and up to 500 pounds. Maximum total length (tip of snout to tip of tail) of over 16 feet


A pelagic species commonly found in shallow inshore waters such as bays, estuaries, and coral reefs but may cross oceanic basins or be found at depths of around 200 feet. Often seen swimming near the water surface, occasionally leaping completely out of the water.


Non-aggressive species of little danger to humans except for their defensive venomous barb located near the base of the tail.

Frequently form large schools during the non-breeding season.

Feeds mainly on bivalves but also eats shrimp, crabs, octopus, worms, whelks, and small fishes.


Internal fertilization. The female carries eggs inside her body until they hatch, after which, she gives live birth to the hatched pups (aplacental viviparity or ovoviviparity); up to four pups per litter.

Males can be identified by the presence of paired claspers along the inner margins of the pelvic fins. 

Additional Information

Harvest of spotted eagle ray is prohibited in state and federal waters.