Australian Whipray, Himantura australis Last, White & Naylor 2016

Other Names: Coachwhip Ray, Longtail Ray, Longtail Stingray, Long-tailed Ray, Reticulate Whipray, Reticulated Whipray

An Australian Whipray, Himantura australis, on the Gold Coast Seaway, Queensland, May 2016. Source: Ian Banks / License: CC By Attribution-NonCommercial

A yellowish to pale brownish whipray densely covered in dark-brown spots, speckles or reticulations, a white underside with a broad dark margin sometimes containing dark spots, and the tail densely spotted or reticulated near the barb, and blackish or marbled behind the barb. Newborn pups are densely covered in close-spaced dark spots that coalesce to form a reticulated or honeycomb pattern in larger juveniles.  
In Australia, the Australian Whipray was previously known as Himantura uarnak, a species that is widespread in the Indo-Pacific, but not found in Australia.

Cite this page as:
Bray, D.J. 2020, Himantura australis in Fishes of Australia, accessed 21 Jun 2024,

Australian Whipray, Himantura australis Last, White & Naylor 2016

More Info


Northern Australia from Shark Bay, Western Australia, around the tropical north to Cook Island, northern New South Wales. Elsewhere the species occurs in Papua New Guinea.
Inhabits sandy and muddy areas, sometimes around rocky reefs, in shallow coastal waters and estuaries at depths to 45 m.


Disc broad, weakly rhomboidal; snout relatively short and broadly triangular; preorbital snout length 19-22% DW, angle 117-127°, with a distinct apical lobe; lateral apices narrowly rounded; orbits moderately large, usually strongly protruding (particularly in young). 
Disc with well-developed denticle band in adults; 1-2, mostly heart-shaped suprascapular denticles which are not preceded before and after by a row of smaller primary denticles. 
Tail long, whip-like, without skin folds; base of tail not depressed, circular in cross-section.


Attains a maximum size of 183 cm DW (disc width), 350 cm TL (total length) . 


Dorsal surface of juveniles (smaller than 370 mm DW) darkly spotted or with spots and weak reticulations, subadults and adults (exceeding 390 mm DW) more strongly reticulated; dorsal tail of juveniles with 3 rows of spots before caudal sting, faint dark saddles beyond sting (no alternating black and white bands on tail); tail uniformly dark ventrally.


Feeds mostly on crustaceans (mainly prawns and crabs), but also consumes polychaete worms. 


Reproductive mode is viviparous, with histotrophy.Males mature at about 112 cm DW. Females produce litters of 2-4 pups, born at a length of about 29-30 cm DW.  


In Australia, this species was previously known as Himantura uarnak.

Similar Species

The similar Leopard Whipray, Himantura leoparda, differs in having larger spots that are further apart (vs. smaller, more closely spaced dark spots in juveniles in H, australis), a pattern of dark rings in larger individuals (vs. a speckled or reticulated pattern), and the snout with a pointed tip (vs. snout with a less pointed tip). 
Spotted individuals may be confused with the Blackspotted Whipray, Maculabatis astra, which has a strongly banded tail (vs. tail not strongly banded in H. australis).


The species is named australis for the tropical Southern Hemisphere distribution of this species.

Species Citation

Himantura australis Last, White & Naylor 2016, Zootaxa 4147(4): 378, figs 1-7. Type locality: west of Oriomo River, Daru, Western Province, Papua New Guinea, 9°04.43'S, 143°08.53'E.


Bray, D.J. 2020


Atlas of Living Australia

Australian Whipray, Himantura australis Last, White & Naylor 2016


Coleman, N. 1981. Australian Sea Fishes North of 30°S. Lane Cove, NSW : Doubleday Australia Pty Ltd 297 pp. (as Himantura uarnak)

Grant, E.M. 1975. Guide to Fishes. Brisbane : Queensland Government, Co-ordinator General’s Department 640 pp. (as Himantura uarnak)

Johnson, J.W. 2010. Fishes of the Moreton Bay Marine Park and adjacent continental shelf waters, Queensland, Australia. pp. 299-353 in Davie, P.J.F. & Phillips, J.A. Proceedings of the Thirteenth International Marine Biological Workshop, The Marine Fauna and Flora of Moreton Bay. Memoirs of the Queensland Museum 54(3) (as Himantura uarnak)

Larson, H.K., Williams, R.S. & Hammer, M.P. 2013. An annotated checklist of the fishes of the Northern Territory, Australia. Zootaxa 3696(1): 1-293 (as Himantura uarnak)

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 pp. 1397-2068. (in part as Himantura uarnak)

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., 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. (as Himantura sp. 4) 

Last, P.R. & Stevens, J.D. 1994. Sharks and Rays of Australia. Canberra : CSIRO Australia 513 pp. 84 pls. (as Himantura uarnak)

Last, P.R. & Stevens, J.D. 2009. Sharks and Rays of Australia. Collingwood : CSIRO Publishing Australia 2, 550 pp. (as Himantura uarnak)

Last, P.R., White, W.T. & Naylor, G. 2016. Three new stingrays (Myliobatiformes: Dasyatidae) from the Indo–West Pacific. Zootaxa 4147(4): 377–402

O'Shea, O.R., Thums, M., van Keulen, M., Kempster, R.M. & Meekan, M.G. 2013. Dietary partitioning by five sympatric species of stingray (Dasyatidae) on coral reefs. Journal of  Fish Biology 82: 1805-1820. (as Himantura uarnak)

Prokop, F. 2002. Australian Fish Guide. Croydon South, Victoria : Australian Fishing Network 256 pp. (as Himantura uarnak)

Semeniuk, C.A.D. & Dill, L.M. 2006. Anti-predator benefits of mixed-species groups of cowtail stingrays (Pastinachus sephen) and whiprays (Himantura uarnak) at rest. Ethology 112: 33-43. (as Himantura uarnak)

Taylor, W.R. 1964. Fishes of Arnhem Land. Records of the American-Australian Scientific Expedition to Arnhem Land 4: 44-307 figs 1-68 (as Himantura uarnak)

White, W.T., Baje, L., Sabub, B., Appleyard, S.A., Pogonoski, J.J. & Mana, R.R. 2017. Sharks and Rays of Papua New Guinea. Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research Monograph Series 189: 1-327 

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 Himantura arnak, and H. toshi in part - Broome specimen misidentified).

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37035003

Danger:Venomous barb on tail

Depth:To 45 m

Habitat:Sandy, muddy areas

Max Size:183 cm DW; 350 cm TL

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Species Maps

CAAB distribution map