Porcupine Ray, Urogymnus asperrimus (Bloch & Schneider 1801)

Other Names: Roughskin Stingaree, Rough-skinned Ray, Solanders Ray, Solander's Ray, Thorny Ray

A Porcupine Ray, Urogymnus asperrimus, in the Seychelles. Source: Olivier Cochard-Labbé / Wikimedia Commons. License: CC BY Attribution-ShareAlike


A distinctive but uncommon stingray named for its protective covering of thorns and denticles. The Porcupine Ray has a thick oval-shaped body with a rounded snout and a long-whip-like tail. Unlike other stingrays in the family Dasyatidae, there is no venomous barb on the tail.

Ranges in colour from light grey to brown above, whitish below, with a blackish tail that is darker near the tip.

Video of a Porcupine Ray in the Maldives.

A Porcupine Ray in the Red Sea at Marsa Alam, Egypt.

Courtship behaviour of Porcupine Rays

See extra images and video footage of Porcupine rays on the Archive site.

Cite this page as:
Bray, D.J. 2017, Urogymnus asperrimus in Fishes of Australia, accessed 13 Jul 2024, https://fishesofaustralia.net.au/home/species/2031

Porcupine Ray, Urogymnus asperrimus (Bloch & Schneider 1801)

More Info


Known in Australian waters from Ningaloo Reef (Western Australia) to Heron Island in the southern Great Barrier Reef, Queensland. Elsewhere, the species is widely distributed, although uncommon, in tropical waters of the Indo-West Pacific and possibly also in the eastern Atlantic.

The Porcupine ray inhabits coral reefs, preferring sandy, coral rubble and seagrass areas, and is often seen near caves and overhangs; also near mangroves, in depths to at least 30 m.


Grows to a length of 147 cm, and a disc width of 100 cm.


Feeds mostly on benthic invertebrates and bony fishes. 


The species is aplacental viviparous - the developing embryos are nourished by histotroph ("uterine milk") produced by the mother.


Taken as incidental bycatch in trawl nets, tangle nets, and beach seines throughout its range. Although occasionally taken in northern Australian trawl fisheries, turtle exclusion devices on trawl nets appear to exclude the Porcupine Ray  from capture.


IUCN Red List: Vulnerable

Species Citation

  • Raja asperrima Bloch & Schneider, 1801, Systema Ichthyologiae Iconibus ex Illustratum: 367. Type locality: Indian seas off Bombay.
  • Author

    Bray, D.J. 2017


    Australian Faunal Directory

    Porcupine Ray, Urogymnus asperrimus (Bloch & Schneider 1801)


    Blaber, S., Dichmont, C.M., White, W.T., Buckworth, R.C., Sadiyah, L., Iskandar, B., Nurhakim, S., Pillans, R.D., Andamari, R., Dharmadi & Fahmi. 2009. Elasmobranchs in southern Indonesian fisheries: the fisheries, the status of the stocks and management options. Reviews in Fish Biology and Fisheries 19: 367–391. 

    Bloch, M.E. & Schneider, J.G. 1801. Systema Ichthyologiae Iconibus ex Illustratum. Berlin 584 pp. 110 pls. 

    Brewer, D., Heales, D., Milton, D., Dell, Q., Fry, G., Venables, B. & Jones, P. 2006. The impact of turtle excluder devices and bycatch reduction devices on diverse tropical marine communities in Australia's northern prawn trawl fishery. Fisheries Research 81: 176-188.

    Cantor, T.E. 1850. Catalogue of Malayan fishes. Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bengal 18(2): 983-1443 pls 1-14

    Cerutti-Pereyra, F., Thums, M., Austin, C.M., Bradshaw, C.J.A., Stevens, J.D., Babcock, R.C., Pillans, R.D., Meekan, M.G. 2014. Restricted movements of juvenile rays in the lagoon of Ningaloo Reef, Western Australia – evidence for the existence of a nursery. Environmental Biology of Fishes 97(4): 371-383.

    Chin, A. 2014. Hunting porcupines: citizen scientists contribute new knowledge about rare coral reef species. Pacific Conservation Biology 20 20(1): 48-53. 

    Chin, A. & Compagno, L.J.V. 2016. Urogymnus asperrimus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016: e.T39413A68648645. http://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2016-1.RLTS.T39413A68648645.en. Downloaded on 30 January 2017.

    Chin, A., Kyne, P.M., Walker, T.I. & McAuley, R.B. 2010. An integrated risk assessment for climate change: analysing the vulnerability of sharks and rays on Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. Global Change Biology 16: 1936–1953.

    Dulvy, N.K., Fowler, S.L., Musick, J.A., Cavanagh, R.D., Kyne, P.M., Harrison, L.R., Carlson, J.K., Davidson, L.N.K., Fordham, S.V., Francis, M.P., Pollock, C.M., Simpfendorfer, C.A., Burgess, G.H., Carpenter, K.E., Compagno, L.J.V., Ebert, D.A., Gibson, C., Heupel, M.R., Livingstone, S.R., Sanciangco, J.C., Stevens, J.D., Valenti, S. & White, W.T. 2014. Extinction risk and conservation of the world’s sharks and rays. eLife 3: e00590.

    Fowler, S.L., Cavanagh, R.D., Camhi, M., Burgess, G.H., Cailliet, G.M., Fordham, S.V., Simpfendorfer, C.A. & Musick, J.A. (comps & eds). 2005. Sharks, Rays and Chimaeras: The Status of the Chondrichthyan Fishes. Status Survey. pp. x + 461. IUCN/SSC Shark Specialist Group, IUCN, Gland, Switzerland and Cambridge, UK.

    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.

    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. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.11646/zootaxa.4139.3.2 Abstract

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

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

    O'Shea, O.R. 2013. The ecology and biology of stingrays (Dasyatidae) at Ningaloo Reef, Western Australia. PhD thesis, School of Biological Sciences and Biotechnology, Murdoch University.

    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. doi:10.1111/jfb.12104 Abstract

    O'Shea O.R., Thums M., van Keulen M. & Meekan, M. 2011. Bioturbation by stingrays at Ningaloo Reef, Western Australia. Marine and Freshwater Research 63: 189-197.  http://dx.doi.org/10.1071/MF11180

    Paxton, J.R., Hoese, D.F., Allen, G.R. & Hanley, J.E. (eds) 1989. Zoological Catalogue of Australia. Pisces: Petromyzontidae to Carangidae. Canberra : Australian Government Publishing Service Vol. 7 665 pp.(p. 43, as Urogymnus africanus)

    Randall, J.E., Allen, G.R. & Steene, R. 1990. Fishes of the Great Barrier Reef and Coral Sea. Bathurst : Crawford House Press 507 pp. figs (p. 30, as Urogymnus africanus)

    Randall, J.E., Allen, G.R. & Steene, R. 1997. Fishes of the Great Barrier Reef and Coral Sea. Bathurst : Crawford House Press 557 pp. figs (p. 30, as Urogymnus africanus)

    Stead, D.G. 1963. Sharks and Rays of Australian Seas. Sydney : Angus & Robertson 211 pp. 63 figs (p. 170, as Urogymnus africanus)

    Theiss, S.M., Kyne, P.M. & Chisholm, L.A. 2010. Distribution of the porcupine ray Urogymnus asperrimus (Bloch & Schneider, 1801) in Australian waters, with new records from Queensland. Memoirs of the Queensland Museum - Nature 55: 101-105. 

    White, W.T. & Dharmadi. 2007. Species and size compositions and reproductive biology of rays (Chondrichthyes, Batoidea) caught in target and non-target fisheries in eastern Indonesia. Journal of Fish Biology 70: 1809-1837. 

    White, W.T., Last, P.R., Stevens, J.D., Yearsley, G.K., Fahmi and Dharmadi. 2006. Economically Important Sharks and Rays of Indonesia. Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research, Canberra, Australia.

    Whitley, G.P. 1939. Taxonomic notes on sharks and rays. The Australian Zoologist 9(3): 227-262 figs 1-18 pls 20-22 (as Urogymnus asperrimus solanderi

    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. 213 as Urogymnus asperrimus solanderi)

    Quick Facts

    CAAB Code:37035027

    Conservation:IUCN - Vulnerable

    Depth:1-30+ m

    Habitat:Reef associated

    Max Size:147cm TL; 100cm DW

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