The Southern Fiddler Ray (Trygonorrhina dumerilli)


Those of us familiar with the coastal waters of Victoria may also be familiar with these curious creatures. Divers, snorkelers, and fishermen alike will probably have encountered these peaceful and placid elasmobranchs which make their home in our shallow marine habitats.

Also known as banjo sharks or green skates, these animals were named for their resemblance to violins. They feed mainly on crustaceans, fishes, polychaetes, and molluscs amongst seagrasses and on sand beds close to the Victorian coast. Found from Western Australia to as far east as the Lakes Entrance area, they are often spotted from the jetties around Port Phillip Bay. They are not harmful to humans as their tail is not barbed, and are generally considered to be peaceable and passive in nature.


The Southern Fiddler Ray is viviparous, which means that the adult females give birth to live young. Pupping occurs around April to May after a 12 month gestation period, with up to five pups born to each mother. During the first eight months of pregnancy, the pups undergo little development inside their mother, with rapid growth occurring in the final four months prior to birth. Pups average about 21 to 25 cm in length with healthy adults reaching over 140 cm.