This ray grows to about 3 ft in width and has a thick body with a bluntly rounded snout, but the flukes are extended laterally to tapered points so that the whole outline resembles the shape of a kite. The colour varies from dirty greenish-grey to almost black. It is harmless except for a hard, bony spine set at an angle on the smooth whiplike tail. This spine can inflict a nasty wound and is dangerous, since there are poison glands and ducts associated with it. The eagle ray feeds largely upon shellfish, which it crushes with powerful jaws lined with hexagonal flat teeth set like paving stones.
This fish is common in northern waters, especially in the Hauraki Gulf where it is frequently seen in shallow water during summer.
by Arthur William Baden Powell, Assistant Director, Auckland Institute and Museum.