Javanese cownose ray (Rhinoptera javanica)

French: Mourine Javanaise
GenusRhinoptera (1)
SizeBody width: up to 150 cm (2)
Weightup to 4,500 kg (2)

Classified as Vulnerable (VU) on the IUCN Red List (1).

Cownose rays (Rhinoptera) have earned their common name for their unusual-looking heads, which feature a double-lobed snout and indented forehead (2). As with most rays, the body is flattened, with the pectoral fins broadly expanded and fused with the head and trunk to form a disc (3). This smooth-skinned species is characterised by a kite-shaped body-disc, which is brown on the upper surface and white below (2) (3). The long, thin, whip-like tails of cownose rays (Rhinoptera) are distinctly demarcated from the body and armed with one or more stings.

Ranging across the Indo-West Pacific, from Durban, South Africa, north possibly to India, Thailand, Indonesia, and southern China. Also in Okinawa, Ryukyu Island and possibly Australia (2).

A benthic species found over sand and mud bottoms of inshore coastal waters, in bays, estuaries and near coral reefs (2) (3).

This species is sometimes found in extremely large groups, with schools of up to 500 rays having been reported (2) (3). Feeding on a diet of clams, oysters and crustaceans (2), the ray uses its large plate-like teeth to crush the shells of its prey (3). Reproduction is ovoviviparous, with live young being ‘born’ after they have hatched inside the female (2).

Cownose rays (Rhinoptera) are fished for food, but not generally taken in large numbers. Of only minor importance to fisheries, they are still caught incidentally in hook-and-line and trawling operations (3). However, the true impact fisheries are having on Javanese cownose ray populations is unknown.

There are currently no conservation measures targeting this species.

For further information on the conservation of sharks and rays see:

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  1. IUCN Red List (December, 2009)