Family: GYMNURIDAE, Butterfly Rays
These medium to large stingrays (up to 2 m wide) have a very distinctive appearance: an extremely broad rhomboidal disc that is much wider (more than 1.5 times) than long; eyes and spiracles on top of head, sometimes spiracles have tentacles; mouth arched, no papillae on its floor; jaws with many small teeth in bands; nostrils with a broad, smooth-edged curtain before mouth; pectorals extend well behind pelvic fin origin; pelvics with one lobe; tail very slender and short, much shorter than disc; no dorsal or no tail fins, but skin folds present on its upper &/or lower surfaces, sometimes with a spine at its base; upper surface usually smooth, without denticles.
The habitat, as for most rays, consists of open sandy bottoms. The family occurs worldwide in tropical and subtropical seas. It contains two genera and about 12 species. Two endemic species in one genus occur in our region.
PREPARED BY D ROSS ROBERTSON, AFTER MCEACHRAN & CARVALHO (2002)