Creature Feature: Pacific Electric Ray

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The Pacific electric ray (Torpedo californica) is found only in the west coast of the United States. Typically found in sandy bottoms, rocky reefs, kelp beds and occasionally we will catch them aboard the R/V Robert G. Brownlee in the San Francisco Bay Estuary. Basic characteristic of this species is their round mobile body that has a very large first dorsal (top) fin and kidney shape electric organs on the side of its head. If provoked these species are able to control a charge causing numbness in humans and stuns its prey. This charge can measure up to 50 volts!

Like most chondrichthyes (cartilaginous) fish they posses pores (ampullae of lorenzini) that sense magnetic fields given off by other living organisms. Like our local leopard sharks these rays are ovoviviparous. Ovoviviparous is the process in which the embryos (feeding on the nutrient in the yolk sack) develop inside eggs that are held with in the mother. The mother is able to produce a litter of offspring (approximately 20). Starting around 7 inches, these unique species can grow up to 36 inches (males) and 54 inches (females) and living as long as 24 years.





2 Responses to “Creature Feature: Pacific Electric Ray”

  1. Brian Says:

    I find animals that are able to generate electrical current so fascinating. While 50 volts would definitely give you a shock, the ray has nothing on the electric eel – which can generate a charge of up to 600 volts! Yikes!

  2. Hayley Says:

    I love that you are fascinated with animals being able to generate electrical currents. if you are ever interested in being a guest writer on the blog let me know. We can do a segment on electric eels. 🙂

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