69. The Electric Ray – Wildlife Of The Solway

69. The Electric Ray (Torpedo nobiliana) – Wildlife Of The Solway

This is an unusual fish but very widespread in temperate seas including British waters.  It has no commercial value but is caught occasionally as a by- catch by commercial trawlers and recreational anglers with somewhat shocking consequences!

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It has uniformly dark colouration and a flattened body shape like other rays, reaching a size of up to 1.8 metres and a weight of nearly 100kg.  Young fish live mainly on the seabed at depths of 10-50 metres, but adults are known to have more pelagic (mid water) habits and are found down to 800m deep.

The electric discharge generated by special kidney shaped organs can be up to 220V and has been known to render a human unconscious but is not fatal.  This ability allows them to stun and consume other fish species and not surprisingly also means they have few predators.

Because of their infrequent capture little is known about their worldwide population or IUCN ( Conservation) status, but the gestation period for females is about a year so even unintentional commercial  fishing may be threatening them.

We had one for a while out of curiosity at the Lake District Coast Aquarium which had been caught by a local trawler but it never really settled and we ended up releasing it again with some relief that we managed all this without any electrifying experiences!

A final point of interest is that the Naval weapon ‘Torpedo’ takes it’s name from this fish.

68. The Topknot – Wildlife of the Solway

Lake District Coast Aquarium
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