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Electric ray (Narcine brasiliensis)—Douglas Faulkner
Any of the aquatic rays (families Torpedinidae, Narkidae, and Temeridae) that produce an electrical shock. They are found worldwide in warm and temperate seas, mostly in shallow water but some (genus Benthobatis) at depths greater than 3,000 ft (900 m). Slow-moving bottom-dwellers, they feed on fishes and invertebrates. They range in length from less than 1 ft (30 cm) to about 6 ft (1.8 m) and have a short, stout tail. They are soft and smooth-skinned, with a circular or nearly circular body disk formed by the head and pectoral fins. They are harmless unless touched or stepped on. The electric organs, composed of modified muscle tissue, are in the disk near the head. The shock from these organs, which may reach 220 volts and is strong enough to fell a human adult, is used for defense, sensory location, and capturing prey.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on electric ray, visit Britannica.com.