The short-tail torpedo ray (Tetronarce macneilli), also known as the “electric ray” or just “torpedo,” is an animal in the Torpedinidae family that is endemic to Australia. Often found between 90 metres and 580 metres deep, they have been observed around the southern borders of Australia (including Tasmania), the north-western coast of West Australia and around Queensland. A carnivore that enjoys fish and crustaceans, they are seen in sandy or muddy substrates to better camouflage themselves.
Short-tail torpedo rays can get up to at least 1 metre in length and their disc is usually wider than that. Their dorsal side is smooth and colouration varies from a grey, yellowish or brown colour that fades to a white underbelly. They have small eyes and most likely do not have the best sight.
As one of the common names gives away (or maybe it was the family…), these rays DO have kidney-shaped electric organs hidden in each side of their disc. Here, an electrical current passes from the lower surface of the body to the upper surface due to the organs being made up fluid filled cells. The upper surface of the ray will have a positive charge and the lower surface a negative charge. We suggest not touching them — they are known to give a nasty shock! In fact, torpedo rays can deliver a shock that has 20 to 50 volts.
They are ovoviparous, and not much else is known about their biology. The IUCN has assessed these animals as Data Deficient (DD) – they do not have an IUCN page to our knowledge.
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