Eastern Fiddler Ray:

Family: Trygonorrhinidae
Common name(s)

Eastern Fiddler Ray, Banjo Ray/Shark.


A large shovelnose ray with a sub-oval disc. Snout short and obtusely angular with a bluntly rounded tip. Snout length 4 x orbit length. Eyes small. Spiracles with one large, fleshy skinfold on posterior margin. Nasal curtain almost completely covers aperture.
Anterior margins of disc convex. Pectoral apices obtusely angular to rounded, posterior margins broadly rounded. Dorsum completely covered in small denticles. ~18 large thorn-like denticles along midline to first dorsal. Two short rows of thorns on each shoulder; outer rows slightly longer than inner rows. 1 or 2 pre and post orbital thorns.
Tail robust, 1.3-1.4 x disc length. Dorsal fins large and well separated, with narrowly rounded apices. Caudal fin triangular, without a defined lower caudal lobe.


Dorsum greyish light brown to yellowish-brown with large, diffuse, dusky or dark brown blotches and bars, and a variable pattern  of roughly eye-width lines with dark brown edges.  Post orbital intersecting lines form a triangle or diamond shape. Rostral cartilage somewhat pale. Ventrum and lateral skin fold on tail white.


Maximum length possibly 120cm. ~25cm at birth.

Eastern Fiddler Ray, Trygonorrhina fasciata.

Conservation Status


Eastern Fiddler Rays are caught in a variety of fisheries along the east coast of Australia, including the Eastern Scalefish and Shark Fishery. Data from these fisheries suggest a decreasing trend, but overall catch per effort reports indicate that the population is fairly stable.

Trygonorrhina fasciata is generally released alive and is suspected to have a high post release survival.

Eastern Fiddler Ray, Trygonorrhina fasciata.

Sub-tropical and temperate seas. Benthic on shallow sandy beaches and seagrass beds. From close inshore to ~100m.


Endemic to southeastern Australia. From southern Queeensland to at least Port Phillip Bay (personal observation) in Victoria.


Aplacental yolksac viviparous.


Feeds mainly on crustaceans; crabs and shrimps.


In Nelson Bay, eastern fiddler rays are often found resting in areas of mixed sand and coral.

Reaction to divers

Very easy to approach. Rarely move away unless molested.

Diving logistics

Eastern Fiddler Rays are abundant in Nelson Bay, NSW. I have seen a dozen individuals on a single shore dive at Fly Point in January.

Although their range officially ends at the NSW/Victoria border, I have encountered this species in Port Phillip Bay within a loose aggregation of Southern Fiddler Rays.

Similar species

Southern Fiddler Ray Extremely similar but distinguished by three longitudinal parallel white lines (that do not form a triangle) behind eyes, and less pre-dorsal midline thorns; ~15-16.