Physical Description

  • The disk or body of this ray is almost twice as wide as it is long.
  • Their pectoral (side) fins are not separated from their head, leading to the triangular shape of the body.
  • Their tail is short with a small stinger at its base.
  • Brown or gray coloration on their back with lighter mottling; white coloration on their belly.
  • They can be 5 feet wide.


  • Point Conception, California to Paita, Peru.
  • Gulf of California, Mexico.


  • They are an inshore species.
  • They are common in shallow bays and along sandy beaches.
  • Found in inlets and jetties.


  • The embryos are nourished by small yolk sacs inside eggs inside the mother and then are born alive.
  • The litter size is often 4-16 pups.
  • The pups have a disk of 8-10 inches in width at birth and grow rapidly.


  • Crustaceans, mollusks, fin fish.


  • Large fishes, especially sharks.

Interesting Facts

  • They are commercially harvested in the Gulf of California for their liver oil.
  • Many species of butterfly rays can quickly change color to blend into their surroundings to avoid predation.

Sources:;; Navarro-Garcia et al. 2004;;

Photo: Nanette Oser Oselett

Come see a Butterfly Ray and its elasmobranch relatives in person at Birch Aquarium’s Shark Shores!