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Pacific Electric Ray
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Scientific Name Torpedo californica
Conservation Status Least Concern
Family Chordata
Habitat North East Pacific Rim
Food Fish


The Pacific electric ray, Torpedo californica, is a species of ray, family Torpedinidae, and the only electric ray endemic to the western coast of the United States. It is a solitary, nocturnal predator of bony fishes, which it subdues using pulses of electricity. Care should be exercised around this species, as it has been known to act aggressively towards divers if provoked and its electric shock can knock down a grown person. Pacific electric rays are of significance to molecular biology as a model organism for studies on acetylcholine receptors and other proteins, which are abundant in the cells of its electric organs.

The Pacific electric ray occurs in the northeastern Pacific Ocean, from the Magdalena and Sebastian Vizcaino Bays in Baja California to the Dixon Entrance in northern British Columbia, possibly with one or more discrete populations north of Point Conception. Electric rays off the coasts of Peru, Chile, and Japan may be of this species, but this has yet to be determined.

They are generally found over sandy bottoms, around rocky reefs, and near kelp beds.

Pacific electric rays feed mainly on bony fishes, including anchovies, hake, herring, mackerel, flatfishes, and kelp bass, but will also take invertebrates such as cephalopods. A 124-cm female has been seen consuming a silver salmon (Onchorhynchus kisutch) nearly half her length. Nighttime seine net sampling conducted at the surface of Monterey Bay have captured Pacific electric rays in surprising numbers, suggesting that they rose upwards to feed on small fishes.

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