Caribbean electric rays, like all electric rays, have the ability to produce an electrical charge to deter predators or stun prey!
The Caribbean electric ray is a coastal species found in the western Atlantic and Caribbean coasts. They are nocturnal, lying buried in the sand during the day. This species is uniquely characterized by females reaching maturity at just two years old which is unusually young for any shark or ray species!
Although usually discarded if caught as bycatch, the survivorship is low and pregnant females tend to abort, meaning that bycatch can still influence population size. Bycatch reduction devices in shrimp trawl fisheries in the Gulf of Mexico has lowered overall bycatch rates, but it is thought these methods are ineffective for this species due to its size and slow swimming ability. In the United States, the populations of the Caribbean electric ray declined in more than 80% due to the intense shrimp fisheries operating in that part of the species range.
According to the IUCN Red List of threatened species there are currently no other conservation measures in place for this species.
- Order: Torpediniformes
- Family: Narcinidae
- Population: Unknown
- Trend: unknown
- Size: Up to 60cm (?)
- Depth Range (m): 0.5-30 m
This species has a wide distribution in the western Atlantic from North Carolina, USA, throughout the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico, to the northern coast of Brazil in South America.
Habitat and Ecology
Caribbean electric rays are found on soft substrate within the intertidal zone to a depth of 35m. They are aplacental viviparous – a reproduction mode in which embryos develop inside eggs, which are retained within the mothers body until they are ready to hatch. There is no placental connection and unborn young are nourished by the egg yolk . Between 4 and 15 pups are born per litter.
Their diet is mostly composed of polychaetes, small worm-like animals that inhabit sandy bottoms. Their diet varies with age, but females and males eat the same.
This species is a slow swimmer with a residential behaviour – remaining in a restricted geographic area for extended periods of time.