There are many cool things about the Ornate Numbfish (Narcine ornata) – one of them being that this is a recently (think 2008) described species of numbfish! Previous to Carvalho 2008, scientists often confused Narcine ornate with the Banded Numbfish (Narcine westraliensis). The Banded Numbfish is found in the southern waters off Western Australia, whereas the Ornate Numbfish is endemic to the northern waters of Australia (from the top part of Western Australia to Queensland). Last and Stevens 2009 were able to show that these two ranges did not overlap, making them two different species.
Found at 50-130 metres, the Ornate Numbfish gets to be about 24 cm in length. They have beautiful colouration, with their dorsal side provides a pale or light pink backdrop to multiple large and small dark brown spots. There are some individuals who also have light brown bands on their mid-disc. Beneath, they are the signature creamy white that most Chondrichthyans tend to be.
Little is known about their biology except that males seem to mature at around 17-18 cm in length and females most likely mature around the same size (Carvalho 2008, Last and Stevens 2009). Ornate Numbfish are demersal on continental shelves, and here they feed on small invertebrates (like yummy worms).
The main threat that faces these numbfish are commercial fishing—but not because they’ll get caught. While they are sometimes caught as bycatch, habitat modification is a bigger problem. However, the IUCN has assessed this animal as one of Least Concern (LC).
ever seen these critters before?
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TFUI Founder Melissa C. Marquez is author of all animal bios and "Behind the Fins" segments.
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