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biodiversity explorer

the web of life in southern Africa

Gymnuridae (butterfly rays)

Life > Eukaryotes > Opisthokonta > Metazoa (animals) > Bilateria > Deuterostomia > Chordata > Craniata > Vertebrata (vertebrates)  > Gnathostomata (jawed vertebrates) > Chondrichthyes > Elasmobranchii > Batoidei >  Myliobatoidei > Gymnuridae 

Unmistakable broad, diamond-shaped rays with short tails and small stings close to tail base. 12 species, 1 in the area. Japanese butterfly ray (Gymnura japonica) has been reported from Agulhas bank, but record could not be confirmed.

Species found in southern Africa

Gymnura japonica (Japanese butterfly ray)


Gymnura natalensis (Diamond ray)

The only ray in the area with a broad diamond-shaped pectoral disk, almost twice as wide as long. Tail with black and white bands and much shorter than body length, tentacle present at rear edge of each spiracle, and a small sting near tail base. Colour grey, green, or brownish above, often with darker mottling, white below; can change upper color rapidly to match substrate.

Text by Leonard J.V. Compagno, David A. Ebert and Malcolm J. Smale