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Aetobatus narinari

(White spotted eagle ray)


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Family : Eagle and manta rays; Commonly found in shallow inshore waters such as bays and coral reefs but may cross oceanic basins [1]. Sometimes enters estuaries[2]. Swims close to the surface, occasionally leaping out of the water, or close to the bottom (Ref. 3175). Frequently forming large schools during the non-breeding season [3]. Feeds mainly on bivalves but also eats shrimps, crabs, octopus and worms, whelks, and small fishes [1]. Ovoviviparous [4]. Flesh edible[5]. Maximum length 880 cm TL [5]. Bears young in litters of 4[6]. Tail spines are poisonous[7].

Near Threatened

Threat status

Common Names

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Click on the language to view common names.

Common Names in Afrikaans:

Spikkel arendrog, Spikkel-arendrog, Spikkelarendrog

Common Names in Arabic:

Gharabi, Lasgh'm rabidha, Tess, Tiss, Tiss or Tess, Tubaq

Common Names in Austronesian:

Faaiy, Fáyi ketaf

Common Names in Austronesian (Other):

Faaiy, Fáyi Ketaf

Common Names in Bahasa Indonesia:

Pari Ayam, Pari Burung

Common Names in Banton:


Common Names in Bengali:


Common Names in Bengali, Bangla:

Shankar machh

Common Names in Bikol:

Bagtau, Banagon, Banagun, Banugon, Paging dalimanok, Taligmanok

Common Names in Burmese:

Leik kyauh sun, Leik-kyauh-sun

Common Names in Carolinian:

Fáyi Ketaf, Faaiy, Fáyi ketaf

Common Names in Cebuano:


Common Names in Chinese:


Common Names in Creole, French:

Aigle de mer

Common Names in Creoles and Pidgins, French:

Aigle de mer

Common Names in Czech:

Siba Beloskvrnn, Siba Beloskvrnná, Siba běloskvrnná

Common Names in Danish:

Plettet , Plettet ørnerokke, Plettetørnerokke

Common Names in Dutch:

Arendskoprog, Gevlekte adelaarsrog

Common Names in English:

Bishop ray, Bonnet skate, bonnetray, Duckbil ray, Duckbill eagle ray, Duckbill Eagle-Ray, Duckbill ray, Eagle ray, Flying Ray, Lady ray, Lang spotted eagle ray, Leopard ray, Maylan, Mottled eagle ray, Skate, Spotted bonnetray, Spotted duckbill ray, Spotted duckbilled ray, spotted eagle ray, Spotted eagleray, Spotted edgle ray, Spotted edgle-ray, Spotted stingray, Spotted whipray, Spotted-eagle ray, Sunfish, Whip, Whip ray, White spotted eagle ray, White-spotted eagle ray, Whitespotted Eagle Ray

Common Names in Farsi:

Ramak-e-khaldar, رامك خالدار

Common Names in Fijian:

Vai Beka, Vai tonotono

Common Names in Finnish:

Korkarausku, Täplä, Tähtikotkarausku, Täpläkorkarausku

Common Names in French:

Aigle De Mer, Aigle De Mer L, Aigle De Mer Léopard, Aigle de mer léopard, Aigle De Mer Tachet, Aigle de mer tacheté, Aigle De Mer Tachetée, Aigle de mer tacheté, Aigle de mer tachetée, Raie Aigle, Raie chauve souris, Raie chauve-souris, Raie L, Raie Léopard, Raie léopard, Raie noire, raie-léopard

Common Names in Gela:

Vali lovo

Common Names in German:

Adlerrochen, gefleckter Adlerrochen

Common Names in Gujarati:

Wagaliu, વગલ્યુ 

Common Names in Guugu Yimidhirr:


Common Names in Hawaiian:

Hailepo, Hihimanu, Lupe

Common Names in Japanese:

Madara tobi ei, Madara tobiei, Madara-tobi-ei, マダラトビエイ

Common Names in Javanese:

Pe manuk

Common Names in Kumak:

Nek yorany

Common Names in Kuyunon:


Common Names in Mahl:


Common Names in Makassarese:

Lamburu jangang

Common Names in Malay:

Pari burung, Pari helang, Pari lang, Pari lung

Common Names in Malayalam:

Kakkathirandi, Pulli kakka thirandi, Pulli-kakka-thirandi, Vaval, കാക്ക തിരണ്ടി, കാക്കതിരണ്ടി, പുളളികാക്കതിരണ്ടി, പുള്ളി കാക്ക തിരണ്ടി, വവാല് , വാവല്

Common Names in Maldivian:

Vaifiya madi

Common Names in Mandarin Chinese:

納氏鷂鱝, 纳氏鹞鲼, 雪花鴨嘴燕魟, 雪花鸭嘴燕魟

Common Names in Maranao/Samal/Tao Su:


Common Names in Maranao/Samal/Tao Sug:


Common Names in Marathi:

Bolad, Wagli, बोळाद, वागळी

Common Names in Marathi (Marāṭhī):

Bolad, Wagli

Common Names in Marshall:

Imil, Jimojo

Common Names in Marshallese:

Imil, Jimojo

Common Names in Numee:

Vé-nê, VÈ-nÍ

Common Names in Oriya:


Common Names in Other:


Common Names in Papiamento:

Chuchu , Chuchu agila

Common Names in Persian:

Ramak-e-khaldar, رامك خالدار

Common Names in Persian (Farsi):

Ramak e khaldar

Common Names in Polish:

Orlen centkowany, Orleń cętkowany

Common Names in Portuguese:

Ajeru, Ajuru, Arraia, Arraia morcego, Arraia pintada, Arraia-morcego, Arraia-pintada, Ca, Cação anjo, Narinari, Papagaio, Pintada, Raia chita, Raia leopardo, Raia pintada, Raia-chita, Raia-leopardo, Raia-pintada, Rat, Ratão-Leopardo, Ratão-Pintado, Ratão leopardo, Ratão pintado, Ratão-leopardo, Ratão-pintado, Ratau ponteado

Common Names in Russian:

орляк пят, орляк пятнистый

Common Names in Samoan:

Fai manu, Fai pe'a, Fai-manu, Fai-Pe´a, Fai-pe'a

Common Names in Sinhalese:

Vavoul maduva

Common Names in Somali:


Common Names in Spanish:

Chucho, Chucho pintado, Gavilan pintado, Guugu, Obispo, Pintada, Raya, Raya águila, Raya Gavil, Raya gavilá, Raya gavilán, Raya Murci, Raya Murciélago Moteada, Raya murciélago moteada, Raya pico de pato, Rayo Pico De Pato, Wakawa, Walbuulbul

Common Names in Spanish, Castilian:

Chucho, Chucho pintado, Gavilan pintado, Obispo, Raya, Raya aguila, Raya gavilán, Raya murciélago moteada, Raya pico de pato, Wakawa

Common Names in Swahili:

Kipungu, Pungo Piju, Pungu pijo, Pungu pua, Taachui

Common Names in Swedish:


Common Names in Tagalog:

Dalimanok, Pagi, Pagi-manok, Paging paul, Paol

Common Names in Tahitian:

Fai manu

Common Names in Tamil:

Curooway tiriki, Curooway-tiriki, Kurivi thirukai, Valval thirukai, Vaval thiru, Vaval-thiru, கருவை திருக்‍கை, குரவே தீருக்னக, வரவல் தீரு, வாவல் திருக்‍கை

Common Names in Tao Sug:


Common Names in Telugu:

Eel tenkee, Eel-tenkee, ఈల్ టెంకీ  

Common Names in Thai:

Krabane nog, ปลากระเบนยี่สน

Common Names in Tongan:

Fai sikotā

Common Names in Vietnamese:

Cá Duôi O, Cáó Sao, Cá Duôi O, Cá Ó sao


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Physical Description

Species Aetobatus narinari

Distinctive Features: The spotted eagle ray has a very angular disc and a long, broad snout with a v-shaped internasal flap . The ventrally located mouth is well- adapted for feeding on benthic prey . The flattened body disc is broad and short, measuring about twice as wide as long.

Large spiracles originate close to the pectoral fin origins . The fleshy subrostral lobe is duckbill-shaped and distinct from the upper snout. The wing-like pectoral fins are broad with pointed tips . The trailing edge of the pectoral fins is deeply concave with angular tips.

The pelvic fins are narrowly rounded and the dorsal fin is small with its origin just posterior to the pelvic fin insertion point . There is no caudal fin on the spotted eagle ray. The tail is very long and whip-like, reaching lengths of 2.5-3x the width of the disc when undamaged. The stinging spines , originating just behind the dorsal fin, are short and number from 2-6. They have a barbed tip and recurved lateral teeth along with a forked root . These venomous spines can deliver a nasty sting when used in defense against potential threats .

Denticles : The smooth skin surface of the spotted eagle ray lacks denticles and thorns . The tail spines are not smooth, but instead have lateral teeth and a barbed tip.

Dentition: There is a single row of broad, flat teeth in each jaw that combine to form a single plate . The upper tooth plate takes up about 80% of the width of the mouth while the lower plate takes up approximately 60%. Three to six of the anterior teeth of the lower jaw project beyond the upper tooth plate when the mouth is closed . These plate-like teeth are used to crush shellfish including clams, oysters, and whelks.

The roof of the mouth contains a row of 6 or 7 short papillae close to the upper dental plate while the floor has about 6 papillae. The papillae remove shells from prey items prior to ingestion .


As one of the most beautiful rays, the spotted eagle ray has a dramatic spotted pattern across the dorsal side of the body. The small white, bluish-white, greenish, pearly, or yellow spots are distinct against the black, dark gray, or brown body color. A variation on this pattern includes larger white rings each with a black center, and these rings sometimes join to form lines and circles. The ventral surface is white in color, making it easy to see them underwater as they flap their pectoral fins during swimming. The disc and fin outer margins as well as the tail are darkly shaded or black. The tail has a white base and in freshly caught specimens, there may be crossbars on the tail. The upper sides of the pelvic fins are a similar color to the background color of the body along with dark posterior edges and 6-10 spots. The dorsal fin is either uniformly dark or has a blotch on the front edge.


The spotted eagle ray reaches a maximum length of 8.2 feet (2.5 m ) not including the tail, with the total length including an unbroken tail reaching close to 16.4 feet (5 m). The maximum disc width is 9.8 feet (3 m) and maximum published weight is 507 pounds (230 kg ). Males are commonly 180 cm (Width of Disc) in length when caught/marketed, but may be as large as 300 cm (Width of Disc).


The spotted eagle ray is commonly observed in bays and over coral reefs as well as the occasional foray into estuarine habitats . Although it occurs in inshore waters to depths of approximately 200 feet (60 m ), the spotted eagle ray spends most of its time swimming in schools in open water . In open waters, spotted eagle rays often form large schools and swim close to the surface. It is known to swim long distances across open waters as evidenced by its presence in Bermuda. This species is capable of leaping completely out of the water when pursued. It swims by "flying" gracefully through the water via the undulation of the pectoral fins. When this ray is caught and taken out of the water, it produces loud sounds . Although much research is still needed on the life history of the spotted eagle ray, it is known that this species shows high site fidelity (individuals often stay in or return to the same location). This ray also interacts socially with other individuals within its own species. May be found at depths of 1 to 80 meters.

Biome: Marine .

Ecology: Coastal and semipelagic over the continental shelf from the surface to 60 m depth. Sometimes enters lagoons and estuaries and often associated with coral-reef ecosystems (Michael 1993, Homma et al. 1994, Last and Stevens 1994). Solitary or found in large schools of up to several hundred individuals (McEachran and de Carvalho 2002). Although primarily observed near the coast and around islands and reefs, the species is likely to be capable of crossing ocean basins (Compagno and Last 1999).

Around coral reef environments, spotted eagle rays often enter coral lagoons to feed (Pohnpei Island, Federated States of Micronesia; Homma et al. 1994). Diet consists of a wide variety of benthic species including polychaetes , bivalve and gastropod molluscs , cephalopods , crustaceans and teleost fishes (Homma and Ishihara 1994, Last and Stevens 1994, Compagno and Last 1999, McEachran and de Carvalho 2002) with fish important prey items for adults (Michael 1993).

Aplacental viviparous. Little information available on reproductive biology although known to have low fecundity , bearing 1 to 4 pups/litter (Last and Stevens 1994). Homma et al. (1994) observed three gravid females in the Caroline Islands, two individuals carrying a single embryo and one carrying two embryos. Gestation has been reported at 12 months (Michael 1993) and reproductive periodicity may not be annual . These factors combine for limited reproductive output. Reported to reach sexual maturity after 4 to 6 years (Last and Stevens 1994). Although reaches 330 cm DW most observed are less than 200 cm DW (Compagno and Last 1999).

Catches taken in the protective shark nets off the beaches of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, occur throughout the year but peak in summer (January and February) (Young 2001). The overall sex ratio is unity but there is a significant association between sex and time of year, with more males than females caught in summer and more females than males in winter. Median disc width for each sex is 100 cm (Young 2001). Catches are rare in the southern part of the netted region, an apparent consequence of lower water temperatures (Young 2001).

It should be recognised that life history parameters are likely to vary between the different forms of A. narinari, which may turn out to represent interspecific differences.

Life history parameters
Age at maturity: 4 to 6 years (Last and Stevens 1994) (female); 4 to 6 years (Last and Stevens 1994) (male).
Size at maturity (total length): Unknown (female); Between 100 and 115 cm DW (Indonesia; W. White unpubl. data ) (male).
Longevity (years): Unknown.
Maximum size (total length): 330 cm DW (Last and Stevens 1994).
Size at birth: 26 cm DW (Last and Stevens 1994), 17 to 36 cm DW (Compagno and Last 1999).
Average reproductive age (years): Unknown.
Gestation time: 12 months (Michael 1993), but may be less..
Reproductive periodicity: Unknown.
Average annual fecundity or litter size : 1 to 4 pups/litter (Last and Stevens 1994).
Annual rate of population increase: Unknown.
Natural mortality : Unknown.[8].

List of Habitats :


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Clams, oysters, shrimp, octopus , squid and sea urchins as well as bony fishes provide prey for the spotted eagle ray. This ray is well adapted with its shovel-shaped snout and duck-like bill for searching in the mud for benthic invertebrates . When a prey item is found, the ray crushes it with its plate-like teeth and uses the papillae located in the mouth to separate the shells from the flesh. Upon scientific observation, the stomach contents of spotted eagle rays contained intact prey items lacking any remnants of shells.


Mating behavior often includes the pursuit of a female by one or more males. These males grab her dorsum with their upper tooth plate . One male then grasps the edge of the female's pectoral fin and rolls to her ventral side. The male then inserts a clasper into the female ray. The actual mating lasts 30-90 seconds while the pair are positioned venter-to-venter. Females have been observed to mate in this manner with up to four males over a short time period.

Spotted eagle rays are ovoviviparous meaning the eggs develop inside the body and hatch within the mother. After being released from the egg, the embryos are nourished by a yolk sac rather than through a placental connection with the mother. Up to 4 pups are born in each litter , each measuring 6.7-13.8 inches (17-35 cm) disc width .



Sharks , including the silvertip shark (Carcharhinus albimarginatus) and great hammerhead (Sphyrna mokarran), are predators of the spotted eagle ray. Sharks have also been reported to follow spotted eagle rays during the birthing season , feeding on newborn pups .


Trematodes , including Thaumatocotyle pseudodasybatis, commonly infect the skin of the spotted eagle ray. Clemacotyle australis was reported in the branchial cavity of an individual caught in Australian waters and Decacotyle octona n. comb was found on the gills on another individual.

Acanthobothrium monski n. sp. and A. nicoyaense n. sp., both tapeworms , also parasitize the spotted eagle ray. In addition, a marine leech , Branchellion torpedinis, has been recorded on the pelvic fins of a specimen from Venezuelan waters.


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Aetobates narinariAetobates narinari (Euphrasen • Aetobates narinari (Euphrasen, 1790) • Aetobatis latirostris Duméril • Aetobatis narinariAetobatis narinari (Euphrasen • Aetobatis narinari (Euphrasen, 1790) • Aetobatus narinariMyliobatis eeltenkee Rüppell • Myliobatis macroptera Mcclelland • Raia quinqueaculeata Quoy and Gaimard • Raja narinariRaja narinari Euphrasen • Raja narinari Euphrasen, 1790 • Stoasodon narinari (Euphrasen


Name Status: Accepted Name .

Last scrutiny: Data last modified by FishBase 19-Oct-2000

The wide-ranging A. narinari is most probably a species-complex comprising numerous forms across its range . Based on external morphology, colouration, parasite fauna and distribution there are likely at least four species of ?spotted eagle rays? (J. Caira pers. comm. ). Revision of the species may show that there are indeed more forms. Molecular research is presently underway to help resolve this issue.

Compagno et al. (2005) reported narrow and wide disc morphs from the Philippines, which they suggest may represent separate species, with the broad specimens typical of Pacific A.narinari.

The type locality for A. narinari is uncertain as no types are known, but is thought to be Brazil. If indeed Indo-Pacific forms are shown to be distinct from Atlantic forms then Indo-Pacific species are nominal .[8].

Similar Species

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Similar species sharing distribution ranges with the spotted eagle ray include the southern eagle ray (Myliobatis goodei) and the bullnose eagle ray (M. freminvillii). The southern eagle ray has a dorsal fin originating well behind the level of the rear edges of the pelvic fins while this fin originates just behind the pelvic fin insertion point in the spotted eagle ray. In contrast, the bullnose ray has a dorsal fin origin close to the level of the rear margins of the pelvic fins. Also the bullnose ray is absent from the Gulf of Mexico and the majority of the Caribbean Sea. The coloration of both of the southern eagle ray and the bullnose ray ranges from a uniform gray to reddish-brown with diffuse white spots on the dorsal surface. Another species that closely resembles the spotted eagle ray is the longheaded eagle ray (Aetobatus flagellum). However the uniform coloration of the dorsal side of the longheaded eagle easily distinguishes it from spotted eagle ray which has a spot pattern on the topside of its body.

Members of the genus Aetobatus

ZipcodeZoo has pages for 4 species and subspecies in this genus:

A. flagellum (Longheaded Eagle Ray) · A. guttatus (Sharpwing Eagle Ray) · A. narinari (White-Spotted Eagle Ray) · A. ocellatus (Winter Skate)

More Info

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Further Reading

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Data Sources

Accessed through GBIF Data Portal March 01, 2008:



  1. Compagno, L.J.V. (1997). Myliobatidae. Eagle rays. In K.E. Carpenter and V. Niem (eds.) FAO Identification Guide for Fishery Purposes. The Western Central Pacific. [back]
  2. Last, P.R. and J.D. Stevens (1994). Sharks and rays of Australia. CSIRO, Australia. 513 p. [back]
  3. Robins, C.R. and G.C. Ray (1986). A field guide to Atlantic coast fishes of North America. Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston, U.S.A. 354 p. [back]
  4. Dulvy, N.K. and J.D. Reynolds (1997). Evolutionary transitions among egg-laying, live-bearing and maternal inputs in sharks and rays. Proc. R. Soc. Lond. B 264:1309-1315. [back]
  5. Sommer, C., W. Schneider and J.-M. Poutiers (1996). FAO species identification field guide for fishery purposes. The living marine resources of Somalia. FAO, Rome. 376 p. [back]
  6. Smith, C.L. (1997). National Audubon Society field guide to tropical marine fishes of the Caribbean, the Gulf of Mexico, Florida, the Bahamas, and Bermuda. Alfred A. Knopf, Inc., New York. 720 p. [back]
  7. Bigelow, H.B. and W.C. Schroeder (1953). Sawfishes, guitarfishes, skates and rays. p. 1-514. In J. Tee-Van et al. (eds.) Fishes of the western North Atlantic. Part two. New Haven, Sears Found. Mar. Res., Yale Univ. [back]
  8. Kyne, P.M., Ishihara, H, Dudley, S.F.J. & White, W.T. 2006. Aetobatus narinari. In: IUCN 2011. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2011.2. <>. Downloaded on 30 January 2012. [back]
Last Revised: 2015-02-06