Ornate Numbfish, Narcinops ornata (Carvalho 2008)

Ornate Numbfish, Narcinops ornata. Source: Australian National Fish Collection, CSIRO. License: CC by Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike

A distinctive numbfish with an elaborate  pattern of large and medium-sized dark brown spots that are variously fused and elongated to appear as stripes, and surrounded by smaller spots on most of the dorsal surface including the snout and tail regions.

Cite this page as:
Hicks, T. & Bray, D.J. 2022, Narcinops ornata in Fishes of Australia, accessed 20 Apr 2024, https://fishesofaustralia.net.au/home/species/2643

Ornate Numbfish, Narcinops ornata (Carvalho 2008)

More Info


Endemic to northern Australia from Cape Londonberry, The Kimberley, Western Australia, to the western side of Cape York, Queensland.


To about 24 cm total length. 


Upper surface covered in dark brownish pink spots; some spots joined together to make longitudinal stripes on mid-disc; spiracular membrane covered in small dark spots. Ventral surface white.


Feeds on small invertebrates including worms on the bottom.


Males mature at about 17–18 cm TL.


This species was previously known as Narcine ornata.

Similar Species

Differs from all congeners in having a unique colour pattern on the upper surface comprised of dark brown, large and medium-sized spots (generally larger than interorbital distance) that are variously fused and elongated, and surrounded by smaller spots (smaller than eye-diameter) on most of the dorsal surface including the snout and tail region.
The species had been confused with the Banded Numbfish (Narcine westraliensis), which occurs further south in Western Australia.


The specific name is from the Latin ornatus (= handsome, beautiful) 'in alusion to its spectacular dorsal colour pattern; N. ornata has one of the most intricate patterns of dorsal coloration among species of Narcine'.

Species Citation

Narcine ornata Carvalho 2008, CSIRO Marine and Atmospheric Research Paper No. 022: 242. Type locality: Gulf of Carpentaria, 12°58′ S, 139°10′ E, 56 m, FRV Southern Surveyor, SS 7/93/21.


Hicks, T. & Bray, D.J. 2022


Atlas of Living Australia

Ornate Numbfish, Narcinops ornata (Carvalho 2008)


Allen, G.R. 1997. Marine Fishes of Tropical Australia and South-east Asia. Perth : Western Australian Museum 292 pp. 106 pls. (as Narcine sp.)

Allen, G.R. & Swainston, R. 1988. The Marine Fishes of North-Western Australia. A field guide for anglers and divers. Perth, WA : Western Australian Museum vi 201 pp., 70 pls. (misidentified in part as Narcine ornata - illustration p. 26)

Carvalho, M.R. de 2008. New species of numbfishes from Australia, with a key to Australian electric rays of the genus Narcine Henle, 1834 (Chondrichthyes: Torpediniformes: Narcinidae). pp. 241-260 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 (as Narcine ornata) See ref online

Carvalho, M.R. de, Compagno, L.J.V. & Last, P.R. 1999. Family Narcinidae. pp. 1433-1446 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. (as Narcine sp. A) 

Carvalho, M.R. de & Last, P.R. 2016. Family Narcinidae pp. 137-169 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.

Gloerfelt-Tarp, T. & Kailola, P.J. 1984. Trawled Fishes of Southern Indonesia and Northwest Australia. Jakarta : Dir. Gen. Fish. (Indonesia), German Tech. Coop., Aust. Dev. Ass. Bur. 406 pp. (NT & north WA specimens misidentified as as Narcine westraliensis

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

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

Rigby, C. & Simpfendorfer, C. 2015. Narcine ornata. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2015: e.T195462A68635178. https://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2015-4.RLTS.T195462A68635178.en. Accessed on 04 October 2022.

Weigmann, S. 2016. Annotated checklist of the living sharks, batoids and chimaeras (Chondrichthyes) of the world, with a focus on biogeographical diversity. Journal of Fish Biology 88(3): 837-1037. https://doi.org/10.1111/jfb.12874 (as Narcine ornata)

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37028007

Conservation:IUCN Least Concern

Danger:Electric ray

Depth:48-132 m

Habitat:Soft sediment areas

Max Size:24 cm TL


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CAAB distribution map