Australians would like you to believe that one cannot venture into the ocean without being stung, poisoned or simply inhumed whole. Twice. In Australia, the ocean is the fishy equivalent of a shot-gun blast through the screen door. With deliberate litotic flourish these potentially dangerous creatures are often given benign and innocuous common names, such as the Blue Ringed octopus or Irukandji jellyfish. This is often in stark contrast to their Latin names (‘Screaming Grasping Blue End’ and ‘What-The-Fuck-Was-Errk?’ respectively).
Beware the Not-Bad Flat Fish.
This approach, however, lacks nuance. For instance, today I bring you a fish that does exactly what it says; The Coffin ray. Even that name however, has been downgraded. After all, you might choose to be cremated. And really, its sting is not that bloody bad, you blouse. With that in mind, the Coffin ray is known around these parts in by its less dramatic name, the Numb ray.
It’s been raining here. A lot. We live at the mouth of a large river, which, under normal circumstances, is salt water for about 7 kilometres inland. However, recent flooding caused a drop in salinity at the beach and surrounding area, killing unlucky sea creatures in its muddy wake. Which is where the numb ray comes in. One of these washed up on the beach a couple of days ago, along with a paddock-full of sad looking sheep and a few cows.
Unlike most rays, the numb ray has no tail with which to sting you. Phew. Instead, it has around 50-200 volts, at around 30 amps to liven up your day. Although the numb ray is limited to Australian waters, there are numerous electric rays in the world, some of which were used to anaesthetise women during childbirth, which just goes to show you why women still like to sneak off behind the curtains to squeeze them out.
Seriously though, how cool is this thing? I didn’t even know it existed until one of the local salts told me about being stung by one. Twice.