Torpedo torpedo

Torpedo torpedo

Common name: Ocellate Torpedo, Common Torpedo Ray
Order: Torpediniformes
Family: Torpedinidae 
Synonyms: Raja torpedo, Torpedo ocellata
Misidentifications: None.

  • photo credit: Julien Renoult

Short description

Medium sized torpedo ray. Disc nearly circular. Short and thick tail with two similar dorsal fins and a large caudal fin. Spiracles with 8-10 papillae.

Color: Dorsal surface yellowish to reddish-brownish with commonly five ocella and several light spots. Ocella are blue spots surrounded by a black ring, itself surrounded by a light orange ring. White to cream ventral surface.


  • Disk width (DW): 7-30 cm.
  • Total length (TL): 20-40 cm (max 60 cm).

Swimming pattern: Axial-undulatory locomotion

video credit: MECO project

Biology / Ecology

Nocturnal ambush predator that feeds mainly on small fishes and benthic invertebrates. Capable of inflicting a severe shock of up to 200 volts for attack and defence.

Behaviour: Solitary.

Reproduction: Viviparous (aplacental viviparity with histotrophy). Gestation period: ~6 months. Size at birth (TL): ~9 cm. Juveniles per litter: 3-21.

Habitat: Benthic, soft bottoms (e.g. sandy flats, seagrass beds), occurring exclusively within the shelf (> 200 m) at depth occasionally deeper (up to 400 m). Possibly occurs down to 800 m deep. Also found in brackish areas such as Tunisian lagoons.

This species has been in decline for the last two decades.

Distinguishing characteristics

  • Very characteristic dorsal side pattern: five or more blue spots edged with black and yellow on its back.
  • Small knobs on the rims of its spiracles.

Torpedinidae: Greatly enlarged pectoral fin. Large oval-shape disc. Electric organ on each side of the head.


Worldwide: Eastern Atlantic, from bay of Biscay to Angola. Absent from the Black Sea.

Mediterranean: Whole Mediterranean, with higher densities in the western area. Less common in the eastern Mediterranean.

  • Occurence: Occasional/rare
  • Latest records: Sardinia (2019), Sicily (2019), Valencian coast – Spain (2017), Corsica (2012), Tunisia (2009), central Aegean Sea (2013), Catalan Sea (2013), Cyprus (2013), Gulf of Lion – France (2013), Iskenderun bay – Turkey (2010), Tuscan coast – Italy (2004), Adriatic Sea (2003), Algeria (2003), Egypt (1994).

Any recent observation not on the map?
Contact us!


Threats: Taken as bycatch in bottom trawl, longline, set net, and trammel net fisheries. Edible but mostly discarded.

Protection level:

  • Mediterranean: Least Concern (IUCN 2016, last assessment: 2016)
  • Global: Vulnerable (IUCN 2021, last assessment: 2020)

Key references

  • Abdel-Aziz S.H. 1994. Observations on the biology of the common torpedo (Torpedo torpedo, Linnaeus, 1758) and marbled electric ray (Torpedo marmorata, Risso, 1810) from Egyptian Mediterranean waters. Marine and Freshwater Research 45(4): 693-704.
  • Bellodi A., Mulas A., Carbonara P., Cau A., Cuccu D., Marongiu M. F., Mura V., Pesci P., Zupa W., Porcu C., Follesa, M.C. 2021. New insights into life–history traits of Mediterranean Electric rays (Torpediniformes: Torpedinidae) as a contribution to their conservation. Zoology 146: 125922.
  • Carpentieri P., Nastasi A., Sessa M., Srour A. 2021. Incidental catch of vulnerable species in Mediterranean and Black Sea fisheries – A review. General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean – Studies and Reviews 101: I-317.
  • Damalas D., Vassilopoulou V. 2011. Chondrichthyan by-catch and discards in the demersal trawl fishery of the central Aegean Sea (Eastern Mediterranean). Fisheries Research 108(1): 142-152.
  • El Kamel-Moutalib O., Mnasri N., Boumaiza M., Reynaud C., Capape C. 2013. Diet of common torpedo Torpedo torpedo (Chondrichthyes: Torpedinidae) from the Lagoon of Bizerte (northeastern Tunisia, central Mediterranean). Cah Biol Mar 54: 209-220.
  • Follesa M. C., Marongiu M. F., Zupa W., Bellodi A., Cau A., Cannas R., Colloca F., Djurovic M., Isajlovic I., Jadaud A., Manfredi C., Mulas A., Peristeraki P., Porcu C., Ramirez-Amaro S., Salmerón Jiménez F., Serena F., Sion L., Thasitis I., Cau A., Carbonara P. 2019. Spatial variability of Chondrichthyes in the northern Mediterranean. Scientia Marina 83(S1): 81-100.
  • Ordines F., Massutí E., Moranta J., Quetglas A., Guijarro B., Fliti K. 2011. Balearic Islands vs Algeria: two nearby western Mediterranean elasmobranch assemblages with different oceanographic scenarios and fishing histories. Scientia Marina 75(4): 707-717.
  • Tiralongo F., Messina G., Brundo M. V., Lombardo B. M. 2019. Biological aspects of the common torpedo, Torpedo torpedo (Linnaeus, 1758)(Elasmobranchii: Torpedinidae), in the central Mediterranean Sea (Sicily, Ionian Sea). The European Zoological Journal 86(1): 488-496.