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Torpedo californica

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
ANIMALIA CHORDATA CHONDRICHTHYES RAJIFORMES TORPEDINIDAE

Scientific Name: Torpedo californica
Species Authority: Ayres, 1855
Common Name(s):
English Pacific Torpedo, Pacific Electric Ray

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern ver 3.1
Year Published: 2005
Date Assessed: 2005-10-01
Assessor(s): Neer, J.A.
Reviewer(s): Musick, J.A. & Fowler, S.L. (Shark Red List Authority)
Justification:
This assessment is based on the information published in the 2005 shark status survey (Fowler et al. 2005).

The Pacific Electric Ray (Torpedo californica) has a restricted distribution in relatively shallow, inshore waters on the west coast of North America. Targeted commercial or recreational fisheries do not threaten it and levels of bycatch appear low.

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description: The Pacific Electric Ray is the only member of the family Torpedinidae occurring along the west coast of the United States (Eschmeyer et al. 1983). It ranges from Sebastian Viscaino Bay, Baja California to Queen Charlotte Islands, British Columbia, occurring at depths between 3-274 m (Miller and Lea 1972). It is most common south of Point Conception, California (Love 1996).
Countries:
Native:
Canada (British Columbia); Mexico; United States (California, Oregon, Washington)
FAO Marine Fishing Areas:
Native:
Pacific – eastern central; Pacific – northeast; Pacific – northwest; Pacific – southeast
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population Trend: Unknown

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: Information regarding movement patterns of the Pacific Electric Ray is scarce. Limited telemetry studies indicate that Pacific electric rays begin active movements after dusk and are primarily nocturnal (R. Bray pers. comm.). Traditionally thought to be sluggishand passive hunters, in situ observations indicate that T. californica actively hunt for prey in the water column near rocky reefs and kelp beds and move rapidly in both offensive and defensive situations (Bray and Hixon 1978, R. Bray pers. comm.). Catch records from southern California suggest summer inshore migratory patterns and possible segregation by sex (R. Fey pers. comm.).

The diet of the Pacific Electric Ray is not well documented. They are effective piscivores, capturing prey by electric discharge using either an "ambush-style predation" by day or a "search-and-attack-style" predation at night (Lowe et al. 1995). Their diet in southern California consists mainly of Northern Anchovy (Engraulis mordax), Olive Rockfish (Sebastes serranoides), California Tonguefish (Symphurus atricauda), White Croaker (Genyonemus lineatus) and White Surfperch (Phanerodon furcatus) (R. Bray pers. comm.).
Systems: Marine

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade: Biological and biomedical research

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): A small fishery exists for the acquisition of biological and biomedical research specimens (Love 1996). Small numbers of animals are harvested, either directed or as bycatch in bottom-trawls, for their electric organs. The fishery may currently have as few as two active fishers.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: The Pacific Electric Ray is not presently one of the species actively regulated by the Pacific Fisheries Management Council. The demand for electric ray has been relatively low, with no indication that this trend will change.

Citation: Neer, J.A. 2005. Torpedo californica. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2014.2. <www.iucnredlist.org>. Downloaded on 31 July 2014.
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