The Coffin ray (Hypnos monopterygius) is a small ray with a mighty large disc. In fact, it’s pelvic fins almost form another, smaller circular disc which means… to be honest, I was going to make some kind of geeky revelation then realized I had nothing so let’s just say they’re a cool-looking animal. They have small, similar-sized dorsal fins but the coolest thing about these animals reveals itself when they’re dead: they tend to look more “coffin-like” after they’ve passed, which may be why the common name is what it is. If not, someone should look into this.
They’re smooth all over as they lack denticles and thorns, are a chocolate brown colour with a hint of pink or red on some individuals. Meanwhile, their underbelly is a pale yellow or white colour. Born around 8-11 cm in length, they balloon up to 63 cm as adults, both sexes maturing at around 40-48 cm in length.
The coffin ray is much like myself enjoys the tropical and warm temperate waters of Australia; specifically, it can be seen from western Australia, to New South Wales all the way to Queensland. Commonly seen inshore around 80 m in depth, they have also been collected at 220 m deep! This animal is viviparous, and has litters of 4-8 pups.
Coffin rays enjoy a diet of small teleost fish, cephalopods and crustaceans, and are capable of delivering a shock to prey to stun them. #Finfact: Apparently the electric organs of the coffin ray are so efficient, you can pour salt water on their back while they are out of the water and still receive a shock through that water column! TFUI does not suggest trying this nor condones doing this… so please don’t try this to test it out, readers.
The IUCN has currently assessed these animals as Least Concern (LC). UPDATE (2018): A new study shows they are the second most evolutionary distinct batoid. Check out Figure 3b here.
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TFUI Founder Melissa C. Marquez is author of all animal bios and "Behind the Fins" segments.
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