Common stingray (Dasyatis pastinaca)

Distribution data supplied by the Ocean Biodiversity Information System (OBIS). To interrogate UK data visit the NBN Atlas.Map Help



Dasyatis pastinaca is the only true stingray species regularly encountered in UK waters. The size of Dasyatis pastinaca can be up to 140 cm body disc width and 250 cm total length. The snout is short and leads towards the pectoral fins in an almost straight line. The upper, dorsal, surface is a ‘uniform’ grey to brown to olive in colour. The underside of the body is white with a wide, dark margin. It has no dorsal fins. The tail bears a barbed, poisonous, spine that can be 35 cm long . The spine is shed occasionally and can be replaced. Biologically, it is a modified denticle (tooth-like projection) and makes up 1/3 of the tail. The tail is around 1.5x the length of the body with 74 serrations in females and 98 in males.

Recorded distribution in Britain and Ireland

Scattered records around the west coast of England and Ireland as well as northern Scotland.

Global distribution

North East Atlantic, the Mediterranean and the African coast southwards to South Africa. Scattered records along the coast of Kenya and into the Indian Ocean. It has been recorded in the Caribbean and on the coast of Argentina as well as southern Australia.


This is a benthic species located on sandy and muddy substrata. It is generally a coastal species but travels from shallow water to 200 m. It usually dwells at 20-35 m. It enters lagoons, shallow bays, estuaries, and sometimes rocky reefs.

Depth range

5 - 200 m

Identifying features

  • The barbed spine can be up to 35 cm and makes up 1/3 of the tail.
  • The tail is around 1.5x body length
  • 140 cm body disc width and 250 cm total length
  • The upper surface is grey/brown/olive in colour.
  • The underside is white in colour with a dark margin.
  • No dorsal fins

Additional information

The common stingray feeds mainly on demersal and benthic animals e.g. crustaceans and cephalopods. It is easily distinguishable from other skates and rays by its long, whip-like tail, lack of dorsal fins and large, stinging spine. The maximum age of ten years was recorded in the Mediterranean. Reproduction is ovoviviparous (live birth), with a gestation period of four months and 4-7 live young.

The depth at which this species lives makes it more vulnerable to small-scale fishing. The wings are sold for fish meat and oil. It has a low abundance in the North East Atlantic compared to the Mediterranean. It is ‘Data Deficient’ in the IUCN Red List but is assessed as 'Near Threatened' in North East Atlantic (IUCN, 2009). Dasyatis pastinaca is potentially dangerous to humans due to its poisonous spine.

Listed by


  1. Serena, F., Mancusi, C., Morey, G. & Ellis, J.R. 2009. Dasyatis pastinaca. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2009. Available from:

  2. Shark Trust, 2009. An Illustrated Compendium of Sharks, Skates, Rays and Chimaera. Chapter 1: The British Isles. Part 1: Skates and Rays. [Cited 06-07-2018] Available from

  3. Whitehead, P.J.P., Bauchot, M.-L., Hureau, J.-C., Nielson, J. & Tortonese, E. 1986. Fishes of the North-eastern Atlantic and the Mediterranean. Vol. I, II & III. Paris: United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO).


  1. NBN (National Biodiversity Network) Atlas. Available from:

  2. OBIS (Ocean Biodiversity Information System),  2024. Global map of species distribution using gridded data. Available from: Ocean Biogeographic Information System. Accessed: 2024-06-12


This review can be cited as:

Gibson-Hall, E., 2018. Dasyatis pastinaca Common stingray. In Tyler-Walters H. and Hiscock K. Marine Life Information Network: Biology and Sensitivity Key Information Reviews, [on-line]. Plymouth: Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom. [cited 12-06-2024]. Available from:

Last Updated: 23/08/2018