Latin name

Myliobatis aquila

Other names



The pectoral fins fuse with the head to form a diamond-shaped flat disc, wider than long, with the edges of the fins pointed ('wings'). The characteristic shape of the triangular flat snout, formed by the fused anterior edges of the pectoral fins, resembles a duck's nose. The head is short and rounded. The whip-shaped tail is almost 2-2.5 times as long as the disc. Behind the eyes there are splayed spatulae. On the ventral surface of the disc are 5 pairs of gill slits, mouth and nostrils. The teeth form a flat friction surface consisting of 1-7 rows of plates. A venomous sting is present on the dorsal surface at the base of the tail. Some individuals have 2 or more spines. The length of the spine varies with sex and size, ranging from 45 to 60 mm. There are approximately 66 (females) and 72 (males) spines on the sides. 

Features of fish fins

The pelvic fins are broad, with the posterior edge forming an almost straight line. The caudal fin is absent.

Fish colouring

Colour of dorsal surface of disc from dull brown to almost black without markings. Ventral surface of disc white, sometimes with brownish edges. 


East Atlantic: Madeira, Morocco and the Canary Islands, north to the west coasts of Ireland and the British Isles and the southwestern North Sea, south to Natal, South Africa. Also throughout the Mediterranean.


A marine, brackish, benthopelagic, subtropical species. These fish are more common in the southern part of their range and are quite rare in European waters. In summer they can be found in moderately warm waters (off the coast of England and even southern Norway). Common eagle rays usually do not go deeper than 50 metres in coastal waters, although they are sometimes found at depths of up to 537 metres. They swim in shallow lagoons and estuaries. In the Mediterranean they prefer sandy or muddy bottoms and are found at depths of up to 200 metres.


The maximum recorded dorsal width is 183 cm. Individuals living in the Mediterranean have a maximum fin spread of 150 cm and a total length of 260 cm. Off the coast of southern Africa, the maximum disc width does not exceed 79.1 cm. Maximum recorded weight: 14.5 kg.


Common eagle rays are pretty good swimmers. Their swimming style is similar to flying underwater. Sometimes they will jump out of the water and fly some distance through the air. They are often seen swimming in groups a short distance from the bottom.

Food and feeding habits

The diet consists of nematodes, molluscs, polychaete worms, sipuncula, decapoda and teleosts.


They are oviparous fish. Embryos develop in the womb and feed on egg yolk and histotrophs. There are 3-7 newborns per litter. Pregnancy lasts 6-8 months. Females give birth annually. Births occur between September and February. Males and females reach sexual maturity at a disc width of 40-50 cm and 60-70 cm respectively. 


Of little interest to commercial fisheries. They are caught as bycatch in bottom trawls, triangle nets, purse seines and longlines throughout their range. 

Relationship with a person

The meat is used as dried food, and fish meal and fish oil are also produced. They are potentially dangerous to humans because of the poisonous sting on their tails.

Phylum Chordata
Class Chondrichthyes
Squad Myliobatiformes
Family Myliobatidae
Genus Myliobatis
Species M. aquila
Conservation status Critically Endangered
Habitat Pelagic
Life span, years No information
Maximum body weight, kg 14,5
Maximum length, cm 260
Sailing speed, m/s No information
Threat to people Edible
Way of eating Predator

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Common eagle ray

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