Smooth Stingray, Bathytoshia brevicaudata (Hutton 1875)

Other Names: Giant Black Ray, Giant Stingray, New Zealand Short-tail Stingaree, New Zealand Short-tailed Stingaree, Schreiners Ray, Short-tail Stingray, Short-tailed Stingaree, Stingray

A Smooth Stingray, Bathytoshia brevicaudata, at Blairgowrie Marina, Port Phillip, Victoria. Source: Sarah Speight / Flickr. License: CC BY Attribution-Noncommercial-ShareAlike


An enormous stingray with a deep smooth rhomboidal disc, diagonal rows of pale pores on each side of the head, a short depressed tail tapering towards the sharp finely serrated spine, and a shallow w-shaped groove on the underside just behind the gill openings. The tail is armed with large tubercles and thorns, and lacks a dorsal fin. The Smooth Stingray is greyish-brown above, with a pale underside, and somewhat darker pigment above the eye and on the tail tip.

The large serrated spine on the tail is venomous, and is used for defence. Smooth Stingrays are potentially very dangerous to humans due to their large size, and have been responsible for very painful injuries and at least one death in Australia.

This species was previously known as Dasyatis brevicaudata.

Video of a Smooth Stingray feeding on spider crabs in Port Phillip, Victoria.

Video of a Smooth Stingray at North Head, Sydney, New South Wales.

Video of a Smooth Stingray at Magic Point, Sydney, New South Wales.

Video of a Smooth Stingray feeding at Flinders Pier, Westernport, Victoria.

An albino Smooth Stingray at Walpole, Western Australia.

Smooth Stingrays at Tathra Wharf, New South Wales (along with Mados, Yellowtail Scads, and Trevally).

Cite this page as:
Bray, D.J. 2021, Bathytoshia brevicaudata in Fishes of Australia, accessed 17 Jun 2024,

Smooth Stingray, Bathytoshia brevicaudata (Hutton 1875)

More Info


Widespread in temperate waters of southern Australia, from about Maroochydore in southern Queensland, to Shark Bay, Western Australia, including Tasmania. Elsewhere, the species occurs in South Africa and New Zealand.

Smooth Stingrays inhabit silty or sandy areas in harbours, shallow coastal bays, estuaries, large inlets, coastal reefs and offshore islands. Individuals sometimes congregate in caves and under large overhangs.


Disc broad and rhombic, belly with transverse groove, disc width about 1.1-1.2 times length; tail short, tapering strongly before spine, thorns when present are confined to tail before spine. Trunk very thick; pectoral-fin apex narrowly-rounded; snout short, obtuse, with tip barely extended and anterior margins weakly convex; eye small with orbit length and spiracle 2.0-2.2 in snout length; interorbital space broad, up to 4 times orbit length in adults; mouth often with 5-7 oral papillae, deep labial furrows, weakly convex lower jaw; nasal curtain very broadly skirt-shaped, with fringed margin; nostrils oval, oblique. 
Skin smooth, dermal denticles absent; individuals > 45 cm DW with row of spear-shaped or starry-based thorns and tubercles on mid-line of tail before spine; tail beyond spine covered with sharp thornlets.
Tail very broad, depressed at the base, often shorter that disc width, often with one spine; ventral fold short, prominent (extending to just beyond spine tip), dorsal fold reduced to a hard ridge. 
Pelvic fins rather small with narrowly-rounded apices. 


Maximum total length (TL): 4.3 m
Disc width (DW): more than 2.1 m
Max weight: 350 kg 


Upper surface uniformly greyish brown, darkest on tail tip and above the eye; disc white ventrally; disc margin and undersurface of tail dusky; inside of spiracles white, pores around side of head and diagonal row of pores on each side of anterior disc white; pectoral fin with  oblique rows of white spots dorsally.


Feeds on bottom-dwelling fishes, crustaceans and bivalve molluscs, which are often dug up from the sediment.


Little is known of the biology of this species. Smooth Stingrays are aplacental viviparous, and females produce litters of 6-10 young, born at about 36 cm DW (disc width).


Taken as bycatch in inshore trawl, Danish seine, snapper longline and purse seine fisheries. Also taken by recreational line fishers, and on set lines, drag nets and set nets. Individuals without tails are often seen by divers, suggesting that they often survive capture and tail removal by fishers.


IUCN Red List : Least Concern
The species is taken in a variety of commercial fisheries throughout its range, and usually released or discarded. 

Similar Species

The similar Black Stingray, Bathytoshia lata, differs in having thorn-like denticles along the dorsal midline of the disc, and lacks white spots. B. lata was previously called Dasyatis thetidis. 


The specific name brevicaudata is from the Latin brevis (= short) and cauda (= tail) in reference to the relatively short tail of this species.

Species Citation

Trygon brevicaudatus Hutton, 1875, Ann. Mag. Nat. Hist. 4 16(41): 317. Type locality: Dunedin Harbour, New Zealand


Bray, D.J. 2021


Atlas of Living Australia

Smooth Stingray, Bathytoshia brevicaudata (Hutton 1875)


  • Cox, G. & Francis, M. 1997. Sharks and rays of New Zealand. Canterbury University Press, Christchurch. (as Dasyatis brevicaudata)
  • Duffy, C.A.J., Paul, L.J. & Chin, A. 2016. Bathytoshia brevicaudata. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016: e.T41796A68618154. Downloaded on 04 September 2018.
  • Garrick, J.A.F. 1954. Studies on New Zealand Elasmobranchii. II. — A description of Dasyatis brevicaudatus (Hutton), Batoidei, with a review of records of the species outside New Zealand. Transactions of the Royal Society of New Zealand 82(1): 189-198 figs 1-2 (as Dasyatis brevicaudatus)
  • Gomon, M.F. 2008. Families Dasyatidae, Myliobatidae, Chimaeridae, Callorhinchidae, Rhinochimaeridae. pp. 138-149 in Gomon. M.F., Bray, D.J. & Kuiter, R.H (eds) Fishes of Australia's Southern Coast. Sydney : Reed New Holland 928 pp. (as Dasyatis brevicaudata)
  • Hoschke, A., Whisson, G. & Moore, G.I. 2019. Complete list of fishes from Rottnest Island. pp. 150-161 in Whisson, G. & Hoschke, A. (eds) The Rottnest Island fish book. 2nd ed. Perth : Aqua Research and Monitoring Services.
  • Hutton, F.W. 1875. Descriptions of new species of New Zealand fish. Annals and Magazine of Natural History 4 16(41): 313-317 See ref at BHL
  • Kuiter, R.H. 1993. Coastal Fishes of South-eastern Australia. Bathurst : Crawford House Press 437 pp. (as Dasyatis brevicaudata)
  • Last, P.R. 1994. Families Dasyatididae, Myliobatididae. pp. 181-85, figs 159-163 in Gomon, M.F., Glover, C.J.M. & Kuiter, R.H (eds) The Fishes of Australia's South Coast. Adelaide : State Printer 992 pp. 810 figs. (as Dasyatis brevicaudata)
  • Last, P.R. & Compagno, L.J.V. 1999. Family Dasyatidae. pp. 1479-1505 in Carpenter, K.E. & Niem, V.H. (eds). The Living Marine Resources of the Western Central Pacific. FAO Species Identification Guide for Fisheries Purposes. Rome : FAO Vol. 3 1397-2068 pp. (as Dasyatis brevicaudata)
  • Last, P.R., Manjaji-Matsumoto, B.M., Naylor, G.J.P. & White, W.T. 2016. Dasyatidae. pp. 522-618 in Last, P.R., White, W.T., Carvalho, M.R. de, Séret, B., Stehmann, M.F.W. & Naylor, G.J.P. (eds). Rays of the World. Clayton South, Victoria : CSIRO Publishing 790 pp.
  • Last, P.R., Naylor, G.J.P. & Manjaji-Matsumoto, B.M. 2016. A revised classification of the family Dasyatidae (Chondrichthyes: Myliobatiformes) based on new morphological and molecular insights. Zootaxa 4139(3): 345–368.
  • Last, P.R., Scott, E.O.G. & Talbot, F.H. 1983. Fishes of Tasmania. Hobart : Tasmanian Fisheries Development Authority 563 pp. figs. (as Dasyatis brevicaudata)
  • Last, P.R. & Stevens, J.D. 1994. Sharks and Rays of Australia. Canberra : CSIRO Australia 513 pp. 84 pls. (as Dasyatis brevicaudata)
  • Last, P.R. & Stevens, J.D. 2009. Sharks and Rays of Australia. Collingwood : CSIRO Publishing Australia 2, 550 pp. (as Dasyatis brevicaudata)
  • Last, P.R. & Stewart, A. 2015. 33 Family Dasyatidae. pp. 197-200 in Roberts, C.D., Stewart, A.L. & Struthers, C.D. The Fishes of New Zealand. Wellington : Te Papa Press Vol. 2 pp. 1-576.
  • Le Port, A., Pawley, M.D.M. & Lavery, S.D. 2013. Speciation of two stingrays with antitropical distributions: low levels of divergence in mitochondrial DNA and morphological characters suggest recent evolution. Aquatic Biology 19(2): 153-165. (as Dasyatis brevicaudata)
  • McCulloch, A.R. 1915. Report on some fishes obtained by the F.I.S. Endeavour on the coasts of Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, Tasmania, South and South-Western Australia. Part 3. Biological Results of the Fishing Experiments carried on by the F.I.S. Endeavour 1909-1914 3(3): 97-170 figs 1-3 pls 13-37 (as Dasyatis brevicaudata)
  • Prokop, F. 2002. Australian Fish Guide. Croydon South, Victoria : Australian Fishing Network 256 pp.
  • Stead, D.G. 1963. Sharks and Rays of Australian Seas. Sydney : Angus & Robertson 211 pp. 63 figs. (as Dasyatis brevicaudata)
  • Whitley, G.P. 1933. Studies in Ichthyology No. 7. Records of the Australian Museum 19(1): 60-112 figs 1-4 pls 11-15 (as Dasyatis brevicaudata)
  • Whitley, G.P. 1940. The Fishes of Australia. Part 1. The sharks, rays, devil-fish, and other primitive fishes of Australia and New Zealand. Sydney : Roy. Zool. Soc. N.S.W. 280 pp. 303 figs. (as Dasyatis brevicaudata)
  • Quick Facts

    CAAB Code:37035001

    Behaviour:Sandy, muddy bottoms, rocky reefs

    Conservation:IUCN Least Concern

    Danger:Venomous spine on tail

    Depth:Inshore to 150 m

    Max Size:4.3m TL; 2.1m DW; 350 kg

    Species Image Gallery

    Species Maps

    CAAB distribution map