As with all stingrays, the roughtail stingray is easily distinguished by its serrated tail spine embedded within the tough skin of its long, slender tail. Also present on the tail are a number of large, well-spaced mid-dorsal bucklers that end anterior to the tail spine, as well as numerous rows of small spines that extend to the tapered tip of the tail. The dorsal caudal finfold is absent, and the ventral finfold is long and not easily seen. The disc of the roughtail stingray is subquadrangular in shape, ending in a blunt snout. Conspicuous tubercles are visible on the outer parts of the disc. Colouration is variable, ranging from olivaceous, olive brown, brownish to black above, and from white to yellowish-white below.
The roughtail stingray may attain total lengths of over 100 cm.
This species is subtropical, ranging in the western Atlantic from off Cape Cod southward to southeastern Florida and the Gulf of Mexico. It is very rare to find this species north of Cape Cod ; however, it is a straggler during summer months in the Gulf of Maine and on Georges Bank. A specimen (91.4 cm TL) was reportedly caught in Northumberland Strait in 1953, but positive identification is uncertain. In the eastern Atlantic, this species is widespread from the southern Bay of Biscay to Angola, occurring also in the Mediterranean Sea, Madeira, and around the Canary Islands.
This species is demersal, inhabiting coastal marine and brackish waters ranging in depth from 3 to 270 m. It tends to occur primarily above muddy or sandy bottoms.
The diet of the roughtail stingray consists of a variety of bottom-living organisms, including invertebrates such as crustaceans, mollusks, annelid worms, as well as small fishes.
The roughtail stingray is ovoviviparous, with 2 - 6 embryos developing within the oviduct of the female prior to being born live.
Interaction with people
In some areas of the world, the wings of the roughtail stingray are marketed fresh, smoked, dried, and/or salted. This species is also landed for its oil, and for the production of fishmeal. It is potentially dangerous to bathers and waders due to its venomous spine. In Canada, however, this species is of no commercial importance and poses little or no threat to humans due to its rarity.
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