Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Chondrichthyes Rajiformes Narcinidae

Scientific Name: Narcine ornata
Species Authority: Carvalho, 2008
Common Name(s):
English Ornate Numbfish
Taxonomic Notes:

The Ornate Numbfish (Narcine ornata) is a recently described species of numbfish (Carvalho 2008). It has previously been confused with Banded Numbfish (Narcine westraliensis) that is found further south in Western Australia outside the range of this species (Last and Stevens 2009). The Ornate Numbfish was previously referred to as Narcine sp. A by Last and Stevens (1994).

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern ver 3.1
Year Published: 2011
Date Assessed: 2010-11-29
Assessor(s): Rigby, C. & Simpfendorfer, C.
Reviewer(s): Ebert, D.A. & Kyne, P.M.
The Ornate Numbfish (Narcine ornata) is a small, poorly known numbfish that is endemic to northern Australia and occurs on the continental shelf in depths of 48–132 m. Little is known of its biology or population trends. It is not commercially utilized and not currently at risk from Australian fisheries which is reflected in the Least Concern status. Any future expansion or increase of effort of demersal fisheries in its range may pose a risk given this species’ relatively restricted distribution.

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:

The Ornate Numbfish is endemic to northern Australia with a distribution from Cape Londonderry (Western Australia) to western Cape York (Queensland). It occurs in the Timor and Arafura Seas, Torres Strait and (primarily) the Gulf of Carpentaria (Carvalho 2008, Last and Stevens 2009).

Countries occurrence:
Australia (Northern Territory, Queensland, Western Australia)
FAO Marine Fishing Areas:
Indian Ocean – eastern; Pacific – western central
Lower depth limit (metres): 132
Upper depth limit (metres): 48
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]


The population size and number and size of subpopulations of the Ornate Numbfish are unknown.

Current Population Trend: Unknown
Additional data:

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:

The Ornate Numbfish is demersal on the continental shelf in depths of 48–132 m (Carvalho 2008). Little is known of its biology; it attains about 24 cm total length (TL), males mature at about 17–18 cm TL, females probably mature at the same size as males (Carvalho 2008, Last and Stevens 2009).

Systems: Marine

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade:

The Ornate Numbfish is not known to be utilized commercially (Carvalho et al. 1999).

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s):

The main threat that may affect the Ornate Numbfish is fishing which has the potential to cause direct and indirect mortality and habitat modification. This species is known to occur in the region of the largest prawn trawl fishery in Australia, the Northern Prawn Fishery (NPF), however it has not been recorded in the extensive bycatch surveys of this fishery (Stobutzki et al. 2002). This may be as it occurs at depths greater than 50 m and the majority of trawling in the NPF is in waters less than 40 m. A recent risk assessment for the NPF (Zhou and Griffiths 2008) identified this species as having very low levels of risk from prawn trawling as it occurred mostly outside of the fished area. At times, fishers from the NPF operate at greater depths (down to 300 m) targeting scampi in the Arafura Sea. However, the level of effort is very minimal and highly sporadic (C. Rigby pers. obs. 2010).

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: There are no conservation actions currently in place for the Ornate Numbfish. It is a potential bycatch species and research is required to improve knowledge of its life history characteristics and the full distributional range.

Citation: Rigby, C. & Simpfendorfer, C. 2011. Narcine ornata. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2011: e.T195462A8970438. . Downloaded on 10 October 2015.
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