Atlantic Torpedo (Torpedo nobiliana)

A member of the electric ray family, the Atlantic torpedo can generate a shock of 170 to 220 volts. The electricity-generating organs are located in the front half of the body, one on each side, making up about one-sixth of the fish's total weight. The Atlantic torpedo may use these to stun prey, to protect itself from predators, and to identify or attract members of the opposite sex.

Other Names

torpedo, electric ray, dark electric ray; French: torpille noire; Spanish: tremolina negra.


The Atlantic torpedo has a broad disk squared off in front and a short snout. It is uniformly dark olive to brown or black, occasionally with black blotches and small white spots, and whitish underneath. The Atlantic torpedo can be distinguished from its relatives by its large size.


The average fish weighs roughly 30 pounds and has been known to reach 200 pounds in weight and 6 feet in length.

Life history

Reproduction takes place in deeper waters in warm areas, and the young are born alive.


Atlantic torpedoes are sluggish bottom dwellers and feed on such fish as flounder and eels, although they are able to capture fast-swimming prey, such as sharks and salmon.


Strictly an Atlantic Ocean species, it ranges from Nova Scotia and the Bay of Fundy to the Florida Keys and Cuba, but it is absent from the Gulf of Mexico.


Atlantic torpedoes live on sandy or rubble bottoms, ranging from beaches to sounds, and appear to be more common in the cooler parts of their range. They are believed to be most prevalent in waters 60 to 240 feet deep.