Painted Maskray: Neotrygon leylandi

Family: Dasyatidae
Common names

Painted Maskray.


Neotrygon leylandi.


Dasyatis leylandi.


A small stingray with a kite-shaped disc that is wider than long. Disc width 1.1-1.3 x length. Short, bluntly angular to somewhat rounded snout, without an extended tip. Weakly convex or undulate anterior margins of disc. Pectoral fin apices angular or narrowly rounded. Large pelvic fins with narrowly rounded apices. Large protruding eyes. Mouth with prominent labial furrows and folds and two long oral papillae. Fairly narrow, skirt-shaped nasal curtain with a V-shaped fringed posterior margin.
Skin lacking denticles, but with 1-9 small thorns on midline and rarely on anterior tail midline to tail sting. Broad based tail, depressed at base, tapering gently to caudal sting, then thin to tip. Tail length (when intact) up to 1.4 x disc width. Long, low ventral finfold. Short, but prominent dorsal finfold posterior to sting. Two tail stings usually present.


Dorsum variably reddish-brown, pinkish-brown to tan, with an distinctive mosaic pattern composed of irregular, pale, snowflake-like spots. Pattern generally dense on central disc, then sparser or absent towards disc margin. Distinct reddish-brown ‘mask’ across eyes. Two large reddish-brown irregular blotches on shoulders. Ventrum pale. Tail and dorsal finfold heavily patterned. Tail beyond ventral finfold banded to tip, often with one broad white band and numerous narrow black bands.


Maximum disc width ~27cm.

Painted Maskray, Neotrygon leylandi. Bundegi Beach, Exmouth Gulf, Western Australia, Indian Ocean.

Conservation Status


The painted maskray has a small distribution range off the northwest coast of Australia. It has small litters  of 1-3 pups and (due to its diminutive size) it is not protected like larger rays by turtle exclusion devices that are utilized in prawn trawl fisheries to protect large marine predators. Consequently, the painted maskray is likely to be a common bycatch of demersal trawl fisheries, but little species specific data is available. Fortunately, most of the painted maskray’s range in Western Australia is closed to trawling.

Painted Maskray, Neotrygon leylandi. Bundegi Beach, Exmouth Gulf, Western Australia, Indian Ocean.

Tropical seas. On sandy substrates, often adjacent to reefs. From shallow bays to 200m, but commonly 15-90m.


Eastern Indian Ocean. The painted maskray inhabits a small stretch of coastline in Western Australia from Shark Bay northward to Eighty Mile Beach.


Matrotrophic aplacental viviparity. 1-3 pups per litter.


Diet unknown, but probably small benthic invertebrates.


Close to the shoreline in Exmouth Gulf, painted maskrays hide very effectively by burying in the sand amongst low seaweed beds.

Reaction to divers

Fairly easy to approach on snorkel, but generally bolts after a few seconds once engaged.

Diving logistics

Painted maskrays are easy to find by snorkeling off of the beaches on the western edge of the Exmouth Gulf. In particular, Bundegi Beach is a good spot to see this species.

Similar species

Ningaloo Maskray Distinguishable by more complex pattern of very small bright blue and brown spots on a mottled background.