Southern Shovelnose Ray
The southern shovelnose ray is one of five species of shovelnose ray. Sharing characteristics of both sharks and rays, the shovelnose ray is recognised by its triangular shaped head, extending to a translucent snout. They have a sandy coloured elongate body with distinct large dusky blotches covering the dorsal surface. Their pectoral fins are fused to the head and pelvic fins occur immediately behind them and they have a long tail with two dorsal fins. Female shovelnose rays reproduce ovoviviporously, where the females’ eggs hatch within her body prior to giving birth, with litter sizes of 14 to 16 young. The southern shovelnose ray grows to a maximum length of 1.2 metres.
They occur inshore on sandy flats near reefs or along seagrass bed margins in shallow waters to 30 metres deep, where they feed actively on benthic invertebrates such as crustaceans, molluscs and worms. The southern shovelnose ray is endemic to southern Australian waters, with a widespread and common distribution from Wilson’s Promontory, Victoria to the North West Shelf, Western Australia. In the south of the species range, juvenile southern shovelnose rays are most common close inshore, whereas in the north of Western Australia they occur mainly along the mid-continental shelf.
Other common names include: western shovelnose ray, yellow shovelnose ray.
Occurrence at the Busselton Jetty:
The southern shovelnose ray is occasionally observed from the underwater observatory, however is not often spotted until it moves from one sand patch to another where it will gentle wiggle its body until its partially submerged in the sandy substrate.
Image by: S. Daniels