Defining Features[edit | edit source]
Known as the "Electric ray", Torpediniformes are most well known for their ability to produce an electric discharge, which can stun or even kill some fish. They can also be identified by their large caudal fin, short, thick, tail, and a rounded pectoral disc. Unlike most rays, Torpediniformes do not use their pectoral fins to move, instead relying on their large caudal fin. Torpediniformes also lack dermal denticles, instead having smooth skin.
Habitat and Range[edit | edit source]
Torpediniformes are coastal fishes. They can swim in waters up to 1000 meters deep, but are most commonly found in shallow water. Torpediniformes are normally found in temperate and tropical waters worldwide, but can be found in arctic waters on rare occasions.
Fisheries Conservation and Concern[edit | edit source]
The status of many species is of least concern. Most are not target species, but some Torpediniformes are occasionally caught as bycatch in certain fisheries, including trawling nets. There is a significant lack of data regarding the population trends of Torpediniformes, due to the fact that many species are of least concern. However, the Red Sea Torpedo and Aden Gulf Torpedo are critically endangered and endangered.
Closest Relatives[edit | edit source]
[Rhinopristiformes + Myliobatiformes]
Example Species in Torpediniformes[edit | edit source]
Common Torpedo[edit | edit source]
Defining Features: The Common Torpedo can reach up to 60 centimeters and has a white belly with a reddish brown dorsal surface. On its surface it has a number of, usually 5, large distinct spots on its dorsal surface called ocellae. They are blue in color and are surrounded by darker and lighter rings.
Range & Habitat: The Common torpedo lives in the eastern Atlantic ocean from around Spain all the way down to Angola and can often be found in the Mediterranean. They are most commonly found on sandy substrate and seagrass beds from anywhere down to 400m, however they are normally found in shallow waters.
IUCN Concern: Globally, the common torpedo is listed as data deficient with little to no research being done in recent years. However it also states that in Europe there has been a more recent study which concluded that they were of least concern but that the population was declining. They are often caught as bycatch but are edible so are occasionally caught for food.
Lesser Electric Ray[edit | edit source]
Defining Features: The Lesser Electric ray normally reaches up to 33 inches and possesses the ability to release strong electric discharge from organs along their disc. Coloration on the dorsal surface can vary from dark brown to reddish orange and has irregular rings or ovals along the disc. The ventral surface is normally white in color but can be yellowish or greenish. They possess a snout that is slightly more elongated than other electric rays.
Range & Habitat: Can be found in a range of habitats along the western Atlantic ocean, inhabiting waters on the continental shelf from North Carolina to Argentina. They are also commonly found in the Gulf of Mexico and can be found in the Caribbean Sea. They are normally found in shallow waters but can inhabit water up to 180 feet deep or about 55 meters.
IUCN Concern: They are listed as least concern on the IUCN red list with a stable population. The most prominent threat to them in the future would be the use of trawl nets that drag along the seafloor. However they seem to be facing no problems at the moment and can often be seen by scuba divers in places where they naturally occur.
Example Species in the Gulf of Maine[edit | edit source]
Atlantic Torpedo[edit | edit source]
Torpedo nobiliana[edit | edit source]
Defining Features: The Atlantic Torpedo is a large ray reaching up to over 70 inches and possesses a dark grey coloration. They possess a wide disc with small eyes situated towards the snout area. The electric organs on either side of the head give the skin an appearance similar to a honeycomb.
Range & Habitat: The Atlantic Torpedo is a demersal oceanic fish living in a wide range of waters from Nova Scotia down to Brazil. It is also found on both sides of the Atlantic ocean and can also be found from the southern tip of Norway to the southern tip of South Africa, even being occasionally found in the Mediterranean sea. Its depth range reaches anywhere from 2-800 meters.
IUCN Concern: The Atlantic Torpedo is listed as data deficient on the IUCN Red List of threatened species. Torpedo Rays are often caught as bycatch and are usually discarded at sea, thus leading to little information being known about them. In order to accurately determine the population trend of the Atlantic torpedo, more research must be conducted.
References[edit | edit source]
Chondrichthyan Tree of Life: sharksrays.org
Florida Museum of Natural History: floridamuseum.ufl.edu
IUCN Redlist: iucnredlist.org
Fish Base: fishbase.org