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Commonly Asked Questions

Appears in Georgia Aquarium's:
  • Ocean Voyager

Range / Habitat

  • Roughtail stingray occurs in tropical to temperate regions in the Atlantic. It ranges from Massachusetts to the northern Gulf of Mexico and Uruguay in the Western Atlantic and from the Bay of Biscay to Angola, including the Mediterranean, Madeira and the Canary Islands. 
  • In West Africa, it occurs not only in marine habitats but also in estuaries and the lower reaches of rivers.  
  • Found in sandy and muddy bottoms from near shore to about 899 feet (274 m) in the Western Atlantic and to about 197 feet (60 m) in the Eastern Atlantic. In both areas, finding these rays at depths to about 164 feet (50 m) are more common.

Physical Characteristics

  • One of the largest stingrays, the roughtail stingray grows to about 7 feet (2.1 m) across its disc and 14 feet (4.2 m) long, including the tail. It can weigh as much as 660 lbs. (300 kg).
  • Has a trapezoid-shaped disc with an anterior margin that is straight to slightly concave, a posterior margin that is slightly convex. Outer corners are abruptly rounded. 
  • Disc has numerous scattered spines, particularly across its shoulders.
  • Roughtail stingray is brown to olive dorsally and pale ventrally. 
  • The most distinguishable characteristic of this stingray is its tail, which contains numerous rows of small thorns and is long, slender and whip-like. The tail can be about two and a half times the length of the body. 

Diet / Feeding

  • Feeds on bottom-living crustaceans, cephalopods and bony fishes.  
  • Like other cartilaginous fishes, the roughtail stingray can detect subtle electrical pulses underwater, and can detect prey items buried in the sand.

Reproduction / Growth

  • This stingray is ovoviviparous. It reproduces once per year, usually in the autumn or early winter. 
  • Embryo initially consumes yoke and then absorbs uterine fluid from the mother. The gestation period lasts about four months with the production of two to six offspring. At birth, the disc width of the ray ranges from about 13.5 to 14.5 inches (34 to 37 cm).

Conservation Status

  • “Least Concern” on the IUCN Red List. 

Additional Information

  • Roughtail stingray undertakes northward and shoreward migrations in the spring and moves southward and offshore in the autumn. 
  • Roughtail stingray is capable of inflicting a painful wound to human waders and swimmers with the spines that line its tail.
  • The wings of the roughtail stingray are edible and are marketed fresh, smoked and dried.


Grzimek’s Animal Life Encyclopedia
Sharks & Rays Elasmobranch Guide of the World. Hennemann, R. M.

Photo Credit: Dr. Al Dove