Eastern Shovelnose Stingaree, Trygonoptera imitata Yearsley, Last & Gomon 2008

An Eastern Shovelnose Stingaree, Trygonoptera imitata, at Queenscliff, Port Phillip, Victoria, December 2016. Source: Sascha Schultz / iNaturalist.org. License: CC by Attribution-NonCommercial


A large plain-coloured coastal stingaree with a relatively deep-body, a smooth rhomboidal to subcircular disc, two venomous spines, a long fin on the tail and no dorsal fin. The upper surface is brown to dark brown, sometimes with scattered darker and lighter spots, and the underside is pale usually with a broad darker margin.

DANGER: a sting from the venomous spines may be excruciatingly painful.

Video of an Eastern Shovelnose Stingareeoff Dendy Street Beach in Port Phillip, Victoria.

An Eastern Shovelnose Stingaree at Ulladulla, New South Wales.

An Eastern Shovelnose Stingaree in Port Phillip, Victoria.

Cite this page as:
Bray, D.J. 2018, Trygonoptera imitata in Fishes of Australia, accessed 11 Aug 2022, https://fishesofaustralia.net.au/home/species/2631

Eastern Shovelnose Stingaree, Trygonoptera imitata Yearsley, Last & Gomon 2008

More Info


Endemic to south-eastern Australia, from Jervis Bay (New South Wales) southwards through northern Bass Strait (including Flinders Island) to Beachport (South Australia), and possibly as far west as the Gulf St Vincent (South Australia). Common in Port Phillip Bay and Western Port, Victoria.

Inhabits sandy and muddy bottoms in shallow bays, estuaries and inshore coastal waters at depths of about 5-120 metres. The species may possibly occur in deeper waters in South Australia.


Disc subcircular, wider than long, anterior edge obtuse; snout fleshy, tip not extended; eye diameter about 20–23% preocular snout length; posterior margin of spiracle angular; about 6 tiny papillae on mouth floor; internasal flap skirt-shaped, posterior angle not extended into distinct lobe; tail length 81–89% disc length; no dorsal fin; caudal fin lanceolate.


To 80 cm TL. The largest known specimen measured 793 mm TL, with a disc width of 486 mm (a female).


Uniform greyish-brown or yellowish above, darkest on midline of head, central disc and tail, paler toward disc margin, with a few dark spots scattered irregularly on pectoral disc; centre of tail in juveniles with a blackish stripe from just before the pelvic fin base to the caudal fin. Underside pale over centre of disc, anterior margin, sides and posterior margins of disc similarly darker than central part of disc and tail; pelvic fins with a broad dark margin; some with irregular dark blotches on abdomen; tail uniformly dark.


Carnivore - feeds mostly on bottom-dwelling invertebrates.


Females give birth to live young. Stingarees are aplacental viviparous, meaning that the embryos emerge from eggs within the uterus and undergo further development until they are born. After emerging from their egg cases, the embryos are initially sustained by their yolk, and later by histotroph, a "uterine milk" produced by the mother. 


  • IUCN Red List : Near Threatened
  • Similar Species

    The Eastern Shovelnose Stingaree differs from Trygonoptea testacea (max length 47 cm TL), with which it is sympatric off the southeastern Australian coast, in lacking a dorsal fin, having a shorter prespiracular length, a deeper caudal fin, and a shorter prenasal length. It is much larger than Trygonoptera mucosa (max length 44 cm TL), which also lacks a dorsal fin, and differs in having a shorter prespiracular length.


    Trygonoptera imitata was previously confused with Trygonoptera mucosa and T. testacea which it resembles in general appearance. The species name imitata is from the Latin imitor, meaning 'copy' or 'mimic', in allusion to this similarity.

    Species Citation

    Trygonoptera imitata Yearsley, Last & Gomon, 200C, CSIRO Mar. Atmos. Res. Paper 022: 261. Type locality: east of Wilsons Promontory, Bass Strait, VIC [39°00'S, 146°35'E].


    Bray, D.J. 2018


    Australian Faunal Directory

    Eastern Shovelnose Stingaree, Trygonoptera imitata Yearsley, Last & Gomon 2008


    Gomon, M.F., Yearsley, G.K. & Last, P.R. 2008. Family Urolophidae. 125-137 pp. in Gomon. M.F., Bray, D.J. & Kuiter, R.H (eds). Fishes of Australia's Southern Coast. Sydney : Reed New Holland 928 pp. (126, as Trygonoptera sp.)

    Kuiter, R.H. 1993. Coastal Fishes of South-eastern Australia. Bathurst : Crawford House Press 437 pp. (22, as Trygonoptera sp. 2)

    Last, P.R. & Stevens, J.D. 1994. Sharks and Rays of Australia. Canberra : CSIRO Australia 513 pp. 84 pls (423, as Trygonoptera sp. B)

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

    Last, P.R., Yearsley, G.K. & White, W.T. 2016. Family Urolophidae pp. 676-705. 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.

    Yearsley, G.K., Last, P.R. & Gomon, M.F. 2008. Trygonoptera imitata sp. nov., a new stingaree (Myliobatoidei: Urolophidae) from southeastern Australia. 261-268 in Last, P.R., White, W.T. & Pogonoski, J.J. (eds). Descriptions of new Australian chondrichthyans. CSIRO Marine and Atmospheric Research Paper No. 022: 1-358

    Quick Facts

    CAAB Code:37038014

    Conservation:IUCN Least Concern

    Danger:Venomous spines

    Depth:5-120 m (possibly deeper)

    Habitat:Sandy & muddy areas

    Max weight:80 cm TL

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