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. 2020, Trygonorrhina dumerilii in Fishes of Australia, accessed 14 Jun 2024,

Southern Fiddler Ray, Trygonorrhina dumerilii (Castelnau 1873)

More Info


Widespread in southern Australia, from southern New South Wales, including northern Tasmania. The species is rare in New South Wales.

Inhabits sandy areas and seagrass beds, at depths to 120 m, occasionally entering 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 146 cm TL, and a weight of 6-7 kg. 


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.


Females mature at about 90 cm, whereas males mature at about 70 cm.

Like all sharks, rays and chimaeras, the sexes are separate and fertilisation is external. Females give birth to litters of 2-5 pups during Autumn, following a 12 month gestation period. Pups are born as 21-25 cm TL. 

Guitarfishes are aplacental viviparous, with the young developing inside eggs and hatching before birth.


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. Catches are relatively low, and the species is usually discarded alive, and is thought to have a high post-release survival rate.


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

The Eastern Fiddler Ray, 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. 2020


Atlas of Living Australia

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., Foster, R., Junge, C., Huveneers, C., Rogers, P., Kilian, A. & Bertozzi, T. 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.  

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. (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.  

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.

Huveneers, C. & Reardon, M.B. 2015. Trygonorrhina dumerilii. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2015: e.T43270317A43270336. Downloaded on 30 September 2020.

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. (as Trygonorrhina fasciata)

Jones, A.A., Hall, N.G. & Potter, I.C. 2010. Species compositions of elasmobranchs caught by three different commercial fishing methods off southwestern Australia, and biological data for four abundant bycatch species. Fishery Bulletin 108(4): 365-381. 

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

Kuiter, R. & Kuiter, S. 2018. Coastal sea-fishes of south-eastern Australia. Seaford, Victoria : Aquatic Photographics, 371 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., Scott, E.O.G. & Talbot, F.H. 1983. Fishes of Tasmania. Hobart : Tasmanian Fisheries Development Authority 563 pp. figs. (as Trygonorrhina guanerius)

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

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

Marshall, L.J., White, W.T. & Potter, I.C. 2007. Reproductive biology and diet of the southern fiddler ray, Trygonorrhina fasciata (Batoidea: Rhinobatidae), an important trawl bycatch species. Marine and Freshwater Research 58: 104–115. (as Trygonorrhina fasciata

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 (described as Trygonorrhina melaleuca)  

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

Thomas, P. & Chick, R. 2007. Physiological stress and post-release discard survival of quantitatively important by-catch species. in Svane, I., Rodda, K. & Thomas, P. (eds) Prawn Fishery By-catch and Discards: marine ecosystem analysis – population effects. Project No. 2003/023. SARDI Research Report Series No. 199, pp. 263-332. SARDI - Aquatic Sciences, Adelaide. 

Walker, T.I. & Gason, A.S. 2007. Shark and other chondrichthyan byproduct and bycatch estimation in the Southern and Eastern Scalefish and Shark Fishery. Final report to Fisheries and Research Development Corporation Project No. 2001/007. July 2007. vi + 182 pp. Primary Industries Research Victoria, Queenscliff, Victoria, Australia. 

Waltrick, D., Awruch, C. & Simpfendorfer, C. 2012. Embryonic diapause in the elasmobranchs. Reviews in Fish Biology and Fisheries 22: 849–859.

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