Freshwater Whipray, Urogymnus dalyensis Last & Manjaji-Matsumoto 2008

Freshwater Whipray, Urogymnus dalyensis. Source: Brad Pusey. License: All rights reserved

A large poorly known freshwater stingray with a pale brown to greyish disc, a prominent pointed snout, and a long whip-like tail with a venomous spine. the underside is whitish with greyish spots and a broad dark margin. 
This species was previously known as Himantura dalyensis.
Video of a Freshwater Whipray (and Speartooth Sharks) in the Cairns Marine facility.

Cite this page as:
Gomon, M.F. & Bray, D.J. 2017, Urogymnus dalyensis in Fishes of Australia, accessed 24 May 2024,

Freshwater Whipray, Urogymnus dalyensis Last & Manjaji-Matsumoto 2008

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Limited distribution between the Fitzroy River, Western Australia and Normanby River, Queensland; Ord, Fitzroy and Pentecost Rivers, WA, Daly, Roper and South Alligator Rivers, NT and the Mitchell, Gilbert, Normanby and Wenlock Rivers, QLD; inhabiting estuarine and freshwater habitats in water usually less than 10 ppt.


Distinguishing characters: disc subcircular, snout tip to axis of maximum width 41–44% DW; anterior disc margin truncated, almost transverse; preorbital snout obtuse, angle 120–121°, with a distinct apical lobe; preorbit long, length 27–28% DW, 2.1–2.2 times interorbital length; internasal distance 1.9–2.1 in prenasal length, 3.2–3.6 times nostril length; preoral snout length 3.3–3.4 times mouth width, 2.4–2.6 times internarial distance; lateral apices broadly rounded; orbits very small, protruded slightly; denticles along mid-trunk relatively sparse, band without well-defined margin, mid-scapular denticle small or inconspicuous; tertiary denticles present; disc uniformly pale brown or greyish brown dorsally; ventrally, disc whitish with broad, dark marginal bands, their inner margins irregular and bordered with dark blotches; marginal bands slightly broader posteriorly, their maximum width subequal to mouth width; pelvic-fin tips dark on ventral surface; tail dark brown to blackish dorsally, whitish ventrally forward of sting base, almost uniformly black beyond sting; propterygial radials 73–78, 2.7–2.9 times the number of mesopterygial radials; total vertebral segments 120–121.


Known to reach 124 cm DW (disc width) but commonly less than 100 cm DW.


Disc uniformly pale brown or greyish dorsally, whitish below with broad, dark marginal bands and blotches. Pelvic fin tips dark ventrally; tail dark brown to blackish dorsally, whitish ventrally forward of sting base and black beyond sting.


Feed mainly on benthic invertebrates.


Viviparous with litters of 2 to 6 young with a gestation period of up to 12 months.




Prior to being described in 2008, Australian populations of Himantura dalyensis (now Urogymnus dalyensis) were referred to as Himantura chaophraya (a junior synonym of H. polylepis Bleeker, 1852) and its distribution is South-East Asia. 

Similar Species


This species is named dalyensis in recognition of the major Northern Australian river where it was first collected.

Species Citation

Last  & Manjaji-Matsumoto, 2008, CSIRO Marine and Atmospheric Research Paper No. 022: 283. Type locality: Pentecost River (Bindoola Creek junction), Western Australia 15°42’S, 127°51’E.


Gomon, M.F. & Bray, D.J. 2017


Freshwater Whipray, Urogymnus dalyensis Last & Manjaji-Matsumoto 2008


Campbell, H.A., Hewitt, M., Watts, M.E., Peverell, S. & Franklin, C.E. 2012. Short- and long-term movement patterns in the freshwater whipray (Himantura dalyensis) determined by the signal processing of passive acoustic telemetry data. Marine and Freshwater Research 63(4): 341-350. 

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.

Compagno, L.J.V. & Cook, S.F. 1995. The exploitation and conservation of freshwater elasmobranchs: status of taxa and prospects for the future. In: M.I. Oetinger & G.D. Zorzi (eds) The biology of freshwater elasmobranchs. Journal of Aquariculture and Aquatic Sciences: 62–90.

Compagno, L.J.V. & Cook, S.F. 2005. Giant freshwater stingray or whipray Himantura chaophraya Monkolprasit & Roberts, 1990, pp. 348–349. In: Fowler, S.L., Cavanagh, R.D., Camhi, M., Burgess, G.H., Cailliet, G.M., Fordham, S.V., Simpfendorfer, C.A. and Musick, J.A (eds) Sharks, Rays and Chimaeras: the Status of Chondrichthyan Fishes,  IUCN, Gland, Switzerland and Cambridge, UK. (as Himantura chaophraya)

Herbert, B. & Peeters, J. 1995. Freshwater fishes of far north Queensland. Brisbane : Queensland Department of Primary Industries 74 pp. (as Dasyatis fluviorum, a misidentification)

Kyne, P.M. 2016. Urogymnus dalyensis. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016: e.T195319A104250402. Downloaded on 11 May 2017.

Larson, H., Gribble, N., Salini, J., Pillans, R. & Peverell, S. 2004. Sharks and rays. pp. 59–73. In: Description of Key Species Groups in the Northern Planning Area, National Oceans Office, Hobart (as Himantura chaophraya)

Larson, H.K., Williams, R.S. & Hammer, M.P. 2013. An annotated checklist of the fishes of the Northern Territory, Australia. Zootaxa 3696(1): 1-293.

Last P.R. & Manjaji-Matsumoto B.M. 2008. Himantura dalyensis sp. nov., a new estuarine whipray (Myliobatoidei: Dasyatidae) from northern Australia. pp 283-291 in Last P.R., White W.T. & Pogonoski J.J. (eds) Descriptions of new Australian Chondrichthyans. CSIRO Marine and Atmospheric Research Paper No. 022.

Last, P.R., Manjaji-Matsumoto, B.M., Naylor, G.J.P. & White, W.T. 2016. Family Dasyatidae pp. 522-618. 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., 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: Abstract

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

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

Last, P.R., White, W.T. & Kyne, P.M. 2016. Urogymnus acanthobothrium sp. nov., a new euryhaline whipray (Myliobatiformes: Dasyatidae) from Australia and Papua New Guinea. Zootaxa 4147(2): 162-176 DOI: Abstract

Marzullo, T.A., Wueringer, B.E., Squire, L., Collin, S.P. 2011. Description of the mechanoreceptive lateral line and electroreceptive ampullary systems in the freshwater whipray, Himantura dalyensis. Marine and Freshwater Research 62: 771–779 (as Himantura dalyensis)

Merrick, J.R. & Schmida, G.E. 1984. Australian Freshwater Fishes Biology and Management. Sydney : J.R. Merrick 409 pp. figs 280 col. figs (p. 42, misidentified as Dasyatis fluviorum)

Morgan, D.L., Allen, G.R., Pusey, B.J. & Burrows, D.W. 2011. A review of the freshwater fishes of the Kimberley region of Western Australia. Zootaxa 2816: 1-64.

Pogonoski, J.J., Pollard, D.A. and Paxton, J.R. 2002. Conservation overview and action plan for Australian threatened and potentially threatened marine and estuarine fishes. Environment Australia, Canberra, Australia (as Himantura dalyensis)

Taniuchi, T., Shimizu, M., Sano, M., Baba, O. & Last, P.R. 1991. Description of freshwater elasmobranchs collected from three rivers in Northern Australia. University Museum, University of Tokyo, Nature and Culture 3: 11-26 (p. 23, as Himantura chaophraya)

Thorburn, D.C., Peverell, S.C., Stevens, J.D., Last, P.R. & Rowland, A.J. 2004. Status of freshwater and estuarine elasmobranchs in Northern Australia. Final Report to Natural Heritage Trust: 1–75.

Thorburn, D.C., Morgan, D.L., Rowland, A.J. & Gill, H. 2004. Elasmobranchs in the Fitzroy River, Western Australia. Report to the Natural Heritage Trust, 30 pp.

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 DOI: 10.1111/jfb.12874 Abstract

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37035023

Conservation:IUCN Least Concern

Danger:Venomous spine

Depth:1-4 m

Habitat:Estuaries, freshwater

Max Size:124 cm disc width


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Species Maps

CAAB distribution map