Tetronarce californica 


Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Chondrichthyes Rajiformes Torpedinidae

Scientific Name: Tetronarce californica
Species Authority: (Ayres, 1855)
Common Name(s):
English Pacific Torpedo, Pacific Electric Ray
Torpedo californica Ayres, 1855
Taxonomic Source(s): Eschmeyer, W.N. (ed.). 2015. Catalog of Fishes. Updated 3 August 2015. Available at: (Accessed: 3 August 2015).

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern ver 3.1
Year Published: 2015
Date Assessed: 2015-01-05
Assessor(s): Neer, J.A., Freedman, R.M., Lowe, C.G & Jang, J.J.
Reviewer(s): Haas, D.L. & Lawson, J.
Facilitator/Compiler(s): Walls, R.H.L., Ebert, D.A. & Dulvy, N.K.
The Pacific Electric Ray (Torpedo californica) has a restricted distribution in relatively shallow, inshore waters occurring at depths between 3-274 m on the west coast of North America. While it ranges from Baja California to Haida Gwaii, British Columbia, it is most common south of Point Conception, California. It targeted for its electric organs by the biomedical industry in very low numbers, and is also bycatch in commercial fisheries. While the population trend for this particular species is unknown, landings data suggest that it is rarely encountered in commercial fisheries in north and central California, and recreational catch is limited. Little is known about this species biology and ecology, but it is estimated to have a generation time of 12.5 years. Given that landings of skates and rays are stable where data are available, and that this species appears to be relatively uncommon in reported landings, Pacific Torpedo is assessed as Least Concern throughout its range.
Previously published Red List assessments:
2005 Least Concern (LC)
2000 Lower Risk/least concern (LR/lc)

Geographic Range [top]

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

Population [top]

Population: There are no population estimates or stock assessments available for Pacific Torpedo. In northern and central California bycatch fisheries, landings of Pacific Torpedo are minor, and are reported to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife through the Commercial Fisheries Information System (CFIS). While there is a market category for "Pacific electric ray," it is possible that this species is also landed under the market category of "unspecified ray." Landings data for all rays, collected by the California COFI, ranges from <1 t in 1978 to 25.5 t in 1987, averaging 11.7 t annually over the past 31 years. Landings of Rajiformes in California have remained relatively stable over the past 8 years (2000-2008; Sweetnam 2009). The vast majority of ray landings have been reported as Shovelnose Guitarfish (Rhinobatos productus), which make up 73% of the landings annually since 1978. The recreational fishery comprises only 3% of skate and ray landings in California, with the majority being commercial landings. While rays dominate these small recreational landings, Pacific Torpedo is not among the most commonly landed species, which include Bat Ray (Myliobatis californica), Shovelnose Guitarfish, and Thornback Ray (Raja clavata). While the population trend for this particular species is unknown, landings data suggest that it is rarely encountered in commercial fisheries in California, and recreational and targeted catch is limited.
Current Population Trend: Unknown
Additional data:
Population severely fragmented: No

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: Information regarding movement patterns of Torpedo Ray is scarce. Limited telemetry studies indicate that Pacific Torpedo begin active movements after dusk and are primarily nocturnal (R. Bray pers. comm.). They were traditionally thought to be sluggish and passive hunters, yet in situ observations indicate that this ray actively hunts for prey in the water column near rocky reefs and kelp beds and moves rapidly in both offensive and defensive situations (Bray and Hixon 1978, R. Bray pers. comm.). Catch records from southern California suggest that this species may undergo migrations inshore during the summer months and may segregate by sex (R. Fey pers. comm.). Generation length of this species is estimated to be 12.5 years (Neer and Cailliet 2001).
Systems: Marine
Generation Length (years): 12.5

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade: This species is harvested in small amounts for their electric organs, which are used for biological and biomedical research.

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): This species is targeted in small amounts for their electric organs to be used for biological and biomedical research (Love 2011), and are also bycatch in commercial trawlers in northern and central California. The targeted fishery may currently have as few as two active fishers. 

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: Pacific Torpedo is not presently one of the species actively regulated by the Pacific Fisheries Management Council. Only the Big Skate (Raja binoculata), California Skate (Raja inornata), and Longnose Skate (Raja rhina) are under management authority of the Council Groundfish Fisheries Management Program. While the Pacific Torpedo is not actively managed, the demand and landings of Pacific Torpedo appear to be relatively low. There is no indication that demand will increase.

Citation: Neer, J.A., Freedman, R.M., Lowe, C.G & Jang, J.J. 2015. Tetronarce californica. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2015: e.T39396A80672988. . Downloaded on 27 November 2015.
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