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Atlantic torpedo ray may be up to 1.82 m (6 ft.) in length
In general, female rays are larger than males.
Atlantic torpedo ray may reach 90 kg (200 lb.)
Depending on the species, electric rays may eat fishes, worms, and crustaceans. Adult Atlantic rays consume eels, flounders, and small sharks.
Ovoviviparous ("egg live birth"); Atlantic torpedo rays have a 12 month gestation period.
Lesser electric rays may bear only 2 pups at a time, while Atlantic torpedo rays can deliver as many as 60 pups at a time.
Temperate and tropical waters worldwide
Electric rays belong to the superorder Batoidea, which includes stingrays, skates, guitarfishes, and sawfishes. Like their relatives the sharks, batoids have skeletons made of tough connective tissue called cartilage.
Atlantic torpedo rays (
), for example, live along the coastlines of Canada, the United States, United Kingdom, and South Africa. But they also have been found in the open ocean at depths of approximately 450 m (1,475 ft.). Blind electric rays (
) have been discovered in waters as deep as 900 m (2,950 ft.).
The mouth of the Australian coffin ray (
) is enormous, allowing it to gulp prey half the size of its body.
All living creatures produce electricity - even humans - but electric rays have two special kidney-shaped organs that generate and store electricity like a battery. Large Atlantic torpedo rays can generate enough power to produce a shock of about 220 volts, while smaller rays, like the lesser electric ray (
) can only muster a shock of about 37 volts.
Most electric rays bury themselves under sand during the day and come out at night to feed. If prey is encountered, the ray will stun the creature with electricity. Then, the ray will guide the food with its pectoral fins to its mouth, which is located under its body.
In addition to stunning potential prey and dissuading prospective predators, the electric organs of electric rays may also be used to detect prey and to communicate with each other.
For more information about sharks & rays, explore the
Sharks & Rays InfoBook
ECOLOGY AND CONSERVATION
Eschmeyer, W.N., Herald, E.S. and H. Hammann.
Peterson Field Guide to Pacific Coast Fishes
. New York. Houghton Mifflin Co. 1983.