Southern Eagle Ray, Myliobatis tenuicaudatus Hector 1877

Other Names: Eagle Ray, New Zealand Eagle 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 whip-like 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.
A Southern Eagle Rays feeding in the shallows in southwestern Australia.

Cite this page as:
Bray, D.J. 2023, Myliobatis tenuicaudatus in Fishes of Australia, accessed 25 May 2024,

Southern Eagle Ray, Myliobatis tenuicaudatus Hector 1877

More Info


Widespread in southern Australia, from Moreton Bay, Queensland (and possibly further north), to Shark Bay, Western Australia; also Norfolk Island in the Tasman Sea. Elsewhere, the species occurs in New Zealand.
Inhabits rocky reefs, sandflats, shallow seagrass embayments, and tidal flats in estuaries and harbours, mostly at depths above 50 m.


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.


Brownish, grey, olive-green or yellowish above, paler below; upper surface with a variable pattern of grey-blue spots and bars. 


Feeds on bivalve molluscs, polycheate worms and crustaceans.


Viviparous (matrotrophic) species with litters of 2-20 (average 6) young per breeding cycle with birth occurring in summer months. Size at birth 20-30 cm DW.


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.


The specific name tenuicaudatus is from the Latin tenuis (= thin, slender) and caudatus (= tailed), in reference to the very slender tail of this species.

Species Citation

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


Bray, D.J. 2023


Atlas of Living Australia

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.A.J. 2015. 34 Family Myliobatidae. pp. 201-204 in Roberts, C.D., Stewart, A.L. & Struthers, C.D. (eds). The Fishes of New Zealand. Wellington : Te Papa Press Vol. 2 pp. 1-576.

Francis, M.P. 2019. Checklist of the coastal fishes of Lord Howe, Norfolk and Kermadec Islands, southwest Pacific Ocean Version: 2019.1

Gomon, M.F. 2008. Families Dasyatidae, Myliobatidae, Chimaeridae, Callorhinchidae, Rhinochimaeridae. pp. 138-149 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. See ref at BHL

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.

Hoschke, A., Whisson, G. & Moore, G.I. 2019. Complete list of fishes from Rottnest Island. pp. 150-161 in Whisson, G. & Hoschke, A. (eds). The Rottnest Island fish book. 2nd ed. Perth, Western Australia : Aqua Research and Monitoring Services.

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)

Kyne, P.M. 2016. Myliobatis tenuicaudatus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016: e.T70686656A70687032. Accessed on 08 March 2022.

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. (described as Myliobatis australis, type locality - Port Jackson) See ref at BHL

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 Aetobatus australis)

Russell, B.C. 1983. The food and feeding habits of rocky reef fish of north-eastern New Zealand. New Zealand Journal of Marine and Freshwater Research 17(2):121-145.

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. & Last, P.R. 2016. 30. Eagle Rays. Family Myliobatidae. pp. 706-725 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.

White, W.T. & Naylor, G.J.P. 2016. Resurrection of the family Aetobatidae (Myliobatiformes) for the pelagic eagle rays, genus Aetobatus. Zootaxa 4139(3): 435-438.

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:0-422 m

Habitat:Seagrass beds, sand flats

Max Size:160 cm disc width

Species Maps

CAAB distribution map