Southern Fiddler Ray, Trygonorrhina dumerilii (Castelnau 1873)

Other Names: Banjo Ray, Banjo Shark, Dumeril's Shovelnose-ray, Fiddler, Fiddler Ray, Green Skate, Magpie Fiddler Ray, Magpie Ray, Paritt, Parrit, Southern Fiddler

A Southern Fiddler Ray, Trygonorrhina dumerilii, in Port Phillip, Victoria. Source: Rudie H. Kuiter / Aquatic Photographics. License: All rights reserved


A large yellowish to brownish fiddler ray with an almost oval-shaped disc and a broadly rounded snout. The Southern Fiddler Ray has a pattern of dark-edged greyish bands radiating from the eyes and on the back, and no distinct triangular or diamond-shaped marking behind eyes. 

Some individuals in the Gulf St Vincent, and at Kangaroo Island, South Australia, and in Port Phillip, Victoria, have a mottled dark-brown to black and white colour pattern. They were thought to belong to a separate species, Trygonorrhina melaleuca, until genetic studies showed that they were colour morphs of the Southern Fiddler Ray. 

Video of a Southern Fiddler Ray in Pirates Bay on the Tasman Peninsula, Tasmania, Australia.

Cite this page as:
Bray, D.J. 2018, Trygonorrhina dumerilii in Fishes of Australia, accessed 23 Sep 2020,

Southern Fiddler Ray, Trygonorrhina dumerilii (Castelnau 1873)

More Info


Widespread in southern Australia, from about 90 Mile Beach, Victoria in eastern Bass Strait and around Tasmania, to about Lancelin, Western Australia.

Southern Fiddler Rays inhabit sandy areas and seagrass beds, in depths to 120 m. The species is common in coastal waters throughout much of its range, and occasionally enters estuaries.


Body flattened with an oval to diamond-shaped disc; snout short, broadly triangular; a row of large thorn-like denticles along middle of disc to first dorsal fin; tail long, broad with two dorsal fins of similar size, upper tail lobe well-developed, lower lobe short. Jaws with numerous small blunt crushing teeth.


Maximum total length 150 cm TL, and a weight of 6-7 kg. The pups are born at 21-25 cm Females mature at about 90 cm, whereas males mature at about 70 cm.


Upper surface yellowish to brown or almost black, with broad dark-edged greyish bands radiating from eyes and on either sides of middle of back, no postorbital diamond-shaped pattern on head; underside pale.


Southern Fiddler Rays often forages on sandflats and in seagrass beds - feeding on crustaceans (crabs, shrimps), small fishes, molluscs and polychaete worms. They crush hard-shelled prey such as crabs and molluscs with the small blunt teeth in their powerful jaws.

Small juveniles feed mostly on small crustaceans, including amphipods, isopods and mysid shrimps.


Like all sharks, rays and chimaeras, the sexes are separate and fertilisation is external. Females give birth to fewer than six pups in the Autumn months after a 12 month gestation period. 

Guitarfishes are aplacental viviparous, with the young developing inside eggs and hatching before birth. The young are usually born in autumn.


Taken as bycatch in the Great Australian Bight trawl fishery. Southern fiddler rays are also caught in southeastern Australia in the Danish seine, and shark hook and net fisheries. Southern fiddler rays are of minor commercial importance and are marketed as guitarfish.


IUCN Red List: Least concern


Trygonorrhina dumerilii has previously been confused with and misidentified as Trygonorrhina fasciata. T. dumerilii occurs only in southern Australia, whereas T. fasciata occurs on the east coast from about Fraser Island to eastern Bass Strait.

Genetic studies have shown that Trygonorrhina melaleuca Scott, 1954, is a junior synonym of  T. dumerilii.

Similar Species

Trygonorrhina fasciata, which occurs on the east coast north of Eden (NSW), differs in having a dark bar connecting the eyes, and a triangular or diamond-shaped marking on the head behind the eyes.

Species Citation

Rhinobatus dumerilii Castelnau, 1873, Proc. Zool. Acclim. Soc. Vict. 2: 148. Type locality: Western Australia.


Bray, D.J. 2018


Australian Faunal Directory

Southern Fiddler Ray, Trygonorrhina dumerilii (Castelnau 1873)


Castelnau, F.L. de 1873. Contribution to the ichthyology of Australia. 8. Fishes of Western Australia. Proceedings of the Zoological and Acclimatisation Society of Victoria 2: 123-149.  

Coleman, N. 1980. Australian Sea Fishes South of 30ºS. Lane Cove, NSW : Doubleday Australia Pty Ltd 309 pp.  

Donnellan, S.C., R. Foster, C. Junge, C. Huveneers, P. Rogers, A. Kilian & T. Bertozzi. 2015. Fiddling with the proof: the Magpie Fiddler Ray is a colour pattern variant of the common Southern Fiddler Ray (Rhinobatidae: Trygonorrhina). Zootaxa 3981(3): 367–384. DOI: Abstract  

Gomon, M.F. 2008. Families Torpedinidae to Rhinobatidae. pp. 101-107 in Gomon. M.F., Bray, D.J. & Kuiter, R.H (eds). Fishes of Australia's Southern Coast. Sydney : Reed New Holland 928 pp. (106, as Trygonorrhina fasciata and T. guanerius)  

Guida, L., Awruch, C., Walker, T.I. & Reina, R.D. 2017. Prenatal stress from trawl capture affects mothers and neonates: a case study using the southern fiddler ray (Trygonorrhina dumerilii). Scientific Reports 7: 46300; doi: 10.1038/srep46300. Open access  

Izzo, C. 2011. Examination of the dermal denticles of the rhinobatid Trygonorrhina dumerilii. Transactions of the Royal Society of South Australia 135: 62-65.  

Izzo, C. & Gillanders, B. 2008. Initial assessment of age, growth and reproductive parameters of the southern fiddler ray Trygonorrhina fasciata (Müller & Henle, 1841) from South Australia. Pan-American Journal of Aquatic Sciences 3: 321-327.  

Kuiter, R.H. 1993. Coastal Fishes of South-eastern Australia. Bathurst : Crawford House Press 437 pp.

Last, P.R. 1994. Families Torpedinidae, Rajiidae, Rhinobatidae. pp. 154-172 figs 132-149 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 

Last, P.R. & Séret, B.. 2016. 12 Banjo Rays Family Trygonorrhinidae (pp. 117-126), in Last, P.R., White, W.T., de Carvalho, M.R., Séret, B., Stehmann, M.F.W. & Naylor, G.J.P. (eds) Rays of the World. Melbourne : CSIRO Publishing, 800 pp.  

Last, P.R. & Stevens, J.D. 1994. Sharks and Rays of Australia. Canberra : CSIRO Australia 513 pp. 84 pls (292, as Trygonorrhina fasciata

 Last, P.R. & Stevens, J.D. 2009. Sharks and Rays of Australia. Collingwood : CSIRO Publishing Australia Edn 2, 550 pp.  

May, J.L. & Maxwell, J.G.H. 1986. Field Guide to Trawl Fish from Temperate Waters of Australia. Hobart : CSIRO Division of Marine Research 492 pp.  

Scott, T.D. 1954. Four new fishes from South Australia. Records of the South Australian Museum (Adelaide) 11(2): 105-112 figs 1-3 pl. 22 (p. 106, fig. 1, as Trygonorrhina melaleuca)  

Stead, D.G. 1963. Sharks and Rays of Australian Seas. Sydney : Angus & Robertson 211 pp. 63 figs (143, as Trygonorrhina fasciata, in part, southern distribution only)  

Whitley, G.P. 1932. Studies in Ichthyology No. 6. Records of the Australian Museum 18(6): 321-348 figs 1-3 pls 36-39 (p. 327, as Trygonorrhina fasciata guanerius)  

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 (p. 174, as Trygonorrhina fasciata guanerius)

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37027011

Conservation:IUCN Least Concern

Depth:5-205 m

Fishing:Minor commercial

Habitat:Sand flats, seagrass beds

Max Size:146 cm TL


Species Image Gallery

Species Maps

CAAB distribution map