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Marine Animal Encyclopedia

Painted Ray Raja undulata

Also known as the undulate ray, the painted ray is one of the most distinctive northern European rays. This species is patterned with long, wavy, dark lines edged with white spots that run parallel to the wing margins. Its ornate appearance makes it an attractive species for aquariums, but in its natural habitat, this pattern has the practical advantage of helping the ray to blend in with the gravel and sand on the seabed, where it feeds on flatfish, crabs, and other bottom-living invertebrates.

The biology of this beautiful ray has not been fully studied, but during the breeding season, males use paired claspers to transfer sperm during mating, and females are known to lay up to 15 eggs in muddy or sandy flats. Each egg is encased in a reddish-brown, oblong egg capsule up to 3 in (9 cm) long, with a curved horn at each corner. Additional information on the distribution and status of this and other rays around Britain is currently being collected through an egg-case identification project. Members of the public are encouraged to collect empty egg cases that have been washed ashore, rehydrate them, and identify them. The number and location of egg cases found are collated each year.

Painted Rayzoom image
  • Order Rajiformes
  • Length Up to 4 ft (1.2 m)
  • Weight Up to 15 lb (7 kg)
  • Depth 150–650 ft (45–200 m)
  • Distribution Eastern Atlantic and Mediterranean
Painted Ray habitat mapzoom image