Bat Ray, Myliobatis californica: The Bat Ray has a flat body with a large, bulbous, elevated blunt head and a thick snout. The Bat Ray is black, brown, or blackish-brown on top and white underneath. Its head and eyes are behind the origin of the pectoral fins, which are long and form equivalent triangles.
The Bat Ray has one dorsal fin. Its long whip-like, slender tail is equal in length to the length of the body disc and it contains a long, venomous injecting barb at its base. The Bat Ray has a disc that is wider than long that can reach a width of 6 feet. It can weigh close to 200 pounds, but is normally 2 to 5 feet wide and less than 100 pounds. The Bat Ray is normally found in the first 100 feet of the water column over sandy and mud bottoms, but it has also been encountered in the open ocean. It is very active at night, traveling individually or in groups numbering into the thousands. It stirs the bottom with it pectoral fins to dislodge small animals on which it feed.
This fish species is a member of the Myliobatiformes or Stingray order, Myliobatidae or Eagle Ray Family, and Myliobatis genus. Globally, there are a total of 178 species of Myliiobatiformes, 43 species of the Myliobatidae Family of which 11 are found in the Eastern Tropical Pacific, and 3 species of the Myliobatis genus of which 2 are found in Mexican waters. The Eagle Rays are characterized by having a short front to their face, and the fin under the snout has only one lobe. They have long slender tails that are equal in length to the length of the disc, which have large venomous spines. Most species of this family are bottom dwellers, found in shallow coastal waters, that feed on buried mollusks and crustaceans. They have a venomous spine in the tail which can inflict painful wounds.
The Bat Ray can be confused with the Longnose Bat-Eagle Ray, Myliobatis longirostris (red-brown in color, narrow pointed head with a shovel-like snout, and the aft edges of the disc are black).
The Bat Ray has a broad distribution in Mexican fishing waters, being found all along the Pacific side of the Baja California peninsula, throughout the Sea of Cortez, and along the coast of the mainland north of Acapulco; it appears to be absent from around the oceanic islands. There is a limited commercial market for the Bat Ray. Fossils of the Bay Ray have been dated to be in excess of 1 million years old. This species was believed to be an important food source for Native Americans of California.