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There is hardly a fish that has as many German names as the torpedo panthera. Torpedo rays, trembling rays, panther torpedo rays, bowhead torpedo rays and also bowhead trembling rays. 

This is a ray from the genus Torpedo in the family of electric rays (Torpedinida) Rays evolved from sharks over 100 million years ago and, like sharks, have a cartilaginous skeleton.

The torpedo panthera is a bottom dweller. 

Usually buried in the sand and therefore difficult to recognize. The only noticeable features are the attached eyes and the tail fin, which can protrude a little from the sand. 

The eyes are well developed and can see well even in dim light. There are also two spiracles directly behind the two eyes.  These are an additional breathing opening that can be opened and closed as required.

This allows the animals to suck in and release the water required for breathing through these two openings when they are lying on the ground.

The mouth is located on the underside of the body. It is very flexible and therefore allows large prey to be swallowed. The torpedo panthera feeds mainly on molluscs (snails, worms and crustaceans) and fish.

Reproduction takes place with copulation of males with females. After maturing in the egg yolk, the young are born alive.

The name electric ray is derived from the Latin name of this genus. Torpedinida is derived from torpére which means to be stunned. The electric ray has this name because it is one of the few fish that are able to generate electricity. 

They do this by having specially developed muscle cells, so-called electrocytes, under the skin. In the torpedo panthera, these muscle cells are located at the base of the right and left pectoral fins. This enables them to generate biogenic electricity, which they can discharge as electric shocks to defend themselves from attack or to stun their prey. In any case, as with all fish in the sea, keep your hands off them.

Photos: Johann Vifian
Sources: Red Sea Reef Guide / Wikipedia / 

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