Southern Eagle Ray, Myliobatis tenuicaudatus Hector 1877

Other Names: Bull Ray, Bullray, Bull-ray, Cowfish, Cowray, Eagle Ray, Fly-aways, Mill Ray, Millray, New Zealand Eagle Ray, Whip Ray, Whiptail Ray

Southern Eagle Ray, Myliobatis tenuicaudatus. Source: Rudie H. Kuiter / Aquatic Photographics. License: All rights reserved

A large brownish, greyish, greenish or yellowish eagle ray with a variable pattern of greyish-blue spots and bars, and a venomous spine on the short tail.
Until recently, the Southern Eagle Ray, was called Myliobatis australis in Australia (a junior synonym of M. tenuicaudatus)

A Southern Eagle Ray at Shelly Beach, Manly, New South Wales.

Video of Southern Eagle Rays feeding in the shallows in southwestern Australia.

Cite this page as:
Dianne J. Bray, Myliobatis tenuicaudatus in Fishes of Australia, accessed 24 Oct 2021,

Southern Eagle Ray, Myliobatis tenuicaudatus Hector 1877

More Info


Occurs from Moreton Bay, Queensland, to Jurien Bay, Western Australia. Elsewhere, the species occurs at Norfolk Island and New Zealand.

Inhabits large bays where the species typically feeds in seagrass beds and on sandflats.


Disc wider than long, with angular tips; snout blunt, eyes on sides of head, spiracles conspicuous; leading edges of pectoral fins originating below eyes.  Dorsal fin small, originating just behind trailing margin of pelvic fin; tail long, whip-like with a venomous spine.


This species is brownish, grey, olive-green or yellowish above and paler below. The upper surface has a variable pattern of grey-blue spots and bars. 


Taken as bycatch in demersal gillnet, setline, longline, beach and danish seine fisheries, and by demersal prawn and scallop trawlers. Although not directly targeted, Southern Eagle Rays are increasingly being retained and sold for consumption.

Species Citation

Myliobatis tenuicaudatus Hector, 1877, Trans. N. Z. Inst. 9(62): 468, Pl. 10. Type locality: Wellington Harbour, New Zealand.


Dianne J. Bray

Southern Eagle Ray, Myliobatis tenuicaudatus Hector 1877


Compagno, L.J.V. & Last, P.R. 1999. Families Gymnuridae, Myliobatidae, Rhinopteridae, Mobulidae. pp. 1505-1529 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 Myliobatis australis and M. tenuicaudatus)

Daley, R.K., Stevens, J.D., Last, P.R. & Yearsley, G.K. 2002. Field Guide to Australian Sharks & Rays. Hobart : CSIRO Marine Research 84 pp. (as Myliobatis australis)

Duffy, C. (SSG Australia & Oceania Regional Workshop, March 2003) 2003. Myliobatis tenuicaudatus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2014.2. . Downloaded on 08 September 2014.

Gomon, M.F. 2008. Families Dasyatidae, Myliobatidae, Chimaeridae, Callorhinchidae, Rhinochimaeridae. 138-149 pp. in Gomon. M.F., Bray, D.J. & Kuiter, R.H (eds). Fishes of Australia's Southern Coast. Sydney : Reed New Holland 928 pp. (as Myliobatis australis)

Grant, E.M. 1975. Guide to Fishes. Brisbane : Queensland Government, Co-ordinator General’s Department 640 pp. (as Myliobatis australis)

Hector, J. 1877. Notes on New Zealand ichthyology. Transactions New Zealand Institute 9(62): 465-469, Pls. 8-9.

Hines, A.H., Whitlatch, R.B., Thrush, S.F., Hewitt, J.E., Cummings, V.J., Dayton, P.K. & Legendre, P. 1997. Nonlinear foraging response of a large marine predator to benthic prey: eagle ray pits and bivalves in a New Zealand sandflat. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology 216: 191–210.

Johnson, J.W. 2010. Fishes of the Moreton Bay Marine Park and adjacent continental shelf waters, Queensland, Australia. pp. 299-353 in Davie, P.J.F. & Phillips, J.A. Proceedings of the Thirteenth International Marine Biological Workshop, The Marine Fauna and Flora of Moreton Bay. Memoirs of the Queensland Museum 54(3) (as Myliobatis australis)

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

Kuiter, R.H. 1996. Guide to Sea Fishes of Australia. A comprehensive reference for divers and fishermen. Sydney, NSW, Australia : New Holland Publishers xvii, 434 pp. (as Myliobatis australis)

Last, P.R. 1994. Families Dasyatididae, Myliobatididae. pp. 181-85, figs 159-163 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. (as Myliobatis australis)

Last, P.R., Scott, E.O.G. & Talbot, F.H. 1983. Fishes of Tasmania. Hobart : Tasmanian Fisheries Development Authority 563 pp. figs. (as Myliobatis australis)

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

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

Macleay, W.J. 1881. Descriptive catalogue of the fishes of Australia. Part 4. Proceedings of the Linnean Society of New South Wales 1 6(2): 202-387. (as Myliobatis australis)

Marcotte, M.M. 2014. Homing in the New Zealand eagle ray, Myliobatis tenuicaudatusMarine and Freshwater Research 65(4): 306-311

McCulloch, A.R. 1911. Report on the fishes obtained by the F.I.S. Endeavour on the coasts of New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia and Tasmania. Part 1. Zoological (Biological) Results. Endeavour 1(1): 1-87 figs 1-20 pls 1-16 (as Myliobatis australis)

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

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 Myliobatis australis)

White, W.T. 2014. A revised generic arrangement for the eagle ray family Myliobatidae, with definitions for the valid genera. Zootaxa 3860(2): 149–166.

White, W.T., Jones, A. & Phillips, D.M. 2006. Myliobatis australis. In: IUCN 2014. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2014.1. . Downloaded on 20 June 2014. (as Myliobatis australis)

Yearsley, G.K., Last, P.R. & Ward, R.D. (eds) 1999. Australian Seafood Handbook. Hobart : CSIRO Marine Research 460 pp. (as Myliobatis australis)

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37039001

Conservation:IUCN Least Concern

Danger:Venomous spine on tail

Depth:0-130 m

Habitat:Seagrass beds, sand flats

Max Size:240 cm TL, 120 cm disc width

Species Maps

CAAB distribution map