Short-tail stingray

Bathytoshia brevicaudata (previously Dasyatis brevicaudata)

Type: Fish - ray Litter size: 6 to 10 Other common names: Smooth stingray, bull ray, giant stingray Life span: Unknown years Diet description: Molluscs (small squid and bivalves), crustaceans, worms and small fishes Max width: 2.1 metres Habitat and range: Found exclusively in the southern hemisphere, in temperate waters of the Indo Pacific in South Africa (Cape Town, South Africa to the Zambezi River in Mozambique), southern Australia, New Zealand, and Japan to eastern Russia. Considered a demersal species, the short-tail stingray is found on the continental shelf and slope in depths of 0 to 480 metres. They inhabit both marine and brackish waters, and occupy a wide variety of habitats including shallow coastal bays, estuaries, large inlets, rocky reefs, offshore islands and the open sea floor. Relative size: Image IUCN status: Least concern (LC) - Stable population Least concern (LC)
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Photo © Danel Wentzel
Photo © Danel Wentzel


Large, diamond-shaped body with a blunt, angular snout. The tail is stocky with two stinging barbs, and is shorter than the total length of the stingray as an adult. Short-tail stingrays range from grey-brown to bluish grey, with a white or pale underside. They also have small, pale-blue spots at the base of each pectoral fin.

Special Behaviour

Seasonal aggregations of short-tail stingrays occur in Poor Knights Islands Marine Reserve, in New Zealand, and Hamelin Bay, Western Australia. These aggregations are popular with divers, and are thought to be linked to mating or pupping.


Short-tail stingrays are ovoviviparous (or aplacental viviparous) meaning that eggs are incubated and hatched inside the mother, and the young are born live. The young are first nourished by the yolk sac, followed by uterine milk once they have hatched. Short-tail stingrays can have 6 to 10 pups in a litter.

Habitat & geographical range

Short-tail stingrays occur in both brackish and marine waters, and are found in a huge variety of habitats from shallow bays and estuaries, to rocky reefs, offshore islands and the open seabed. They occur from the surface to depths of around 480 m on the continental shelf and slope. Short-tail stingrays are distributed throughout temperate waters of the Indo Pacific, including South Africa, southern Australia, New Zealand, Japan and eastern Russia.


Diet description

Short-tail stingrays feed on a variety of animals buried in the sand, including small fishes, worms, crustaceans and molluscs (mainly squid and bivalves).


Short-tail stingrays are a popular gamefish, and are fished recreationally as well as commercially. They are also caught as by-catch in inshore trawls, seines, purse seines and longlines. Short-tail stingrays are sometimes retained as an aquarium species, and aggregations of the stingrays attract large numbers of tourists.

Relationship with humans

Short-tail stingrays can sting, as the name suggests. But incidents are rare, and only occur when a ray is threatened or startled. They are typically an inquisitive species, and are popular with divers and tourists.


Although their population is considered stable, the short-tail stingray’s popularity as a gamefish is considered in some regions as a significant threat. In Western Australia for example, short-tail stingrays are protected from recreational fishing in the west and south coast bioregions and can no longer be retained in other areas. In South Africa, recreational anglers are restricted to one chondrichthyan species per day. They are also a prohibited species in parts of New Zealand that represent their core distribution.


IUCN Red List. Smooth stingray Bathytoshia brevicaudata

Last. 2016. Rays of the World.

Florida Museum. Short-tail stingray

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