Spotted eagle ray (Aetobatus narinari)

Spotted eagle ray, ventral view
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Spotted eagle ray fact file

Spotted eagle ray description

GenusAetobatus (1)

The spotted eagle ray is very distinctive with a flattened body and triangular corners to the wing-like pectoral fins (2). The snout is rounded and pointed at the tip, so that it resembles a bird’s beak. The tail is long and whip-like and bears 2 – 6 spines (3). These eagle rays possess highly attractive colouring; the uppersurface is blackish-blue with many white spots, whilst the underside is white (2).

'wingspan': up to 3 m (2)
up to 230 kg (2)

Spotted eagle ray biology

Large groups of spotted eagle rays may be seen outside of the breeding season. These rays swim close to the surface and can occasionally be seen jumping clear out of the water (known as ‘breaching’). Females give birth to around 4 live young (2).

Spotted eagle rays have heavy dental plates which they use to crush their hard-shelled prey (4); they feed predominantly on bivalve shellfish (2).


Spotted eagle ray range

Although the spotted eagle ray is found throughout the world’s tropical oceans, current research indicates that there are several different forms of this ray that likely constitute a number of distinct species (1) (4).

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Spotted eagle ray habitat

The spotted eagle ray is found in coastal waters in shallow bays and coral reefs, it has been recorded from a range of depths from 1 – 80 metres (2).


Spotted eagle ray status

Classified as Near Threatened (NT) on the IUCN Red List (1).

IUCN Red List species status – Near Threatened


Spotted eagle ray threats

Little data is available on spotted eagle ray populations. However, this species is accidentally caught as bycatch in non-target fisheries over much of its range (1).


Spotted eagle ray conservation

Further research into population densities and distribution is needed before the precise threats to this species can be assessed and the appropriate conservation action adopted (1).

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View information on this species at the UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre.

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In the fishing industry, the part of the catch made up of non-target species.
Pectoral fins
In fish, the pair of fins that are found one on each side of the body just behind the gills. They are generally used for balancing and braking.


  1. IUCN Red List (May, 2006)
  2. FishBase (September, 2003)
  3. Australia Museum (September, 2003)
  4. MarineBio (August, 2009)

Image credit

Spotted eagle ray, ventral view  
Spotted eagle ray, ventral view

© Doug Perrine /

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This species is featured in Jewels of the UAE, which showcases biodiversity found in the United Arab Emirates in association with the Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi.

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