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Species: Gymnura altavela, Spiny Butterfly Ray

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spiracle - rear tentacle
tail: not barred, with spine(s)
pectoral front edge rounded

Gymnura altavela (Linnaeus, 1758)

Spiny Butterfly Ray

Disc rhomboidal, much wider (at least 1.5 times) than long; snout very bluntly pointed, ~7.5% of disc width; pectorals not separated from head, their edges rounded; mouth arched, no papilla on its floor; jaws with many small teeth in bands; nostrils with a broad, smooth-edged curtain before mouth; inner rear margin of spiracle with distinct tentacle; pectorals extend well behind pelvic fin origin; pelvics with one lobe; tail very short, much shorter than disc; no dorsal or tail fins, but skin folds present on its upper &/or lower surfaces; upper surface usually smooth, without denticles; 1-2 large serrated spines on tail.

Upper surface dark to light brown, with scattered small dark and light spots; lower surface white; tail of small specimens with pale cross-bars, but no bars in adult.

Reaches 260 cm disc width.

Lives on soft bottoms.

Depth range: 10-150 m.

Both sides of the Atlantic; Massachusetts to northern Argentina.

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  • Brackish
  • Marine
  • Inshore
  • Inshore Only
Water Column Position
  • Bottom
  • Bottom only
  • Sand & gravel
  • Soft bottom only
  • Beach
  • Estuary
FishBase Habitat
  • Demersal
Feeding Group
  • Carnivore
  • Data
  • Data
  • Bony fishes
  • Mobile benthic crustacea (shrimps/crabs)
  • Mobile benthic gastropods/bivalves
Egg Type
  • Data
  • Live birth
  • No pelagic larva
Global Endemism
  • All species
  • Greater Caribbean non-endemic
  • Transatlantic (East+West Atlantic)
Regional Endemism
  • Also in Brazil
  • Continent
  • Continent only
  • Extends N + S of GC
  • Extends North of GC
  • Extends South of GC
  • GC non-endemic
  • All species
  • Resident
Climate Zone
  • Subtropical (23-35N, Florida / Carolinas / Bermuda)
  • Temperate (>35N)
  • Tropical (10-23N, Nicaragua / Cuba)
IUCN Red List
  • Listed
  • Vulnerable
  • Not listed
Length Max
  • 260
Depth Range Min
  • 10
Depth Range Max
  • 150