Australian Numbfish


Also known as the coffin ray.

A species of electric ray endemic to Australia, where it is common in inshore waters shallower than 80 m (260 ft). This small species typically reaches 40 cm (16 in) in length. Greatly enlarged pectoral fins and an extremely short tail, coupled with diminutive dorsal and caudal fins all concentrated towards the rear, give the coffin ray a distinctive pear-like shape. It is a varying shade of brown in color above, and has tiny eyes and a large, highly distensible mouth.

The sluggish and nocturnal coffin ray frequents sandy or muddy habitats, where it can bury itself during daytime. It can produce a powerful electric shock reaching 200 volts for attack and defense. This species is a voracious predator that feeds mainly on benthic bony fishes, often tackling fish approaching or exceeding itself in size. On occasion, it may also consume invertebrates and even small penguins and rats. The coffin ray can deliver a severe, albeit non-fatal, shock to a human.

The article tends to use the term Coffin Ray (a reference to what a dead bloated one looks like on the beach) but I have used the name Australian Numbfish as that (or just Numbfish) is the name by which divers know it in South Australia.

It has been seen by divers at the Glenelg Dredge, Seacliff Reef and near Whyalla.