The most famous of the rays, probably, are the torpedos, a family with a rounded, instead of the customary triangular outline, and a rather short tail, species of which occur on all tropical and temperate coasts, and are noted for their power to give electric shocks to any living thing touching them.

The electric organs are a pair of large masses lying between the head and the pectoral fins. These are derived mainly from four nerves, which originate from an electric lobe of the medulla oblongata. By means of the electric shocks which they are able to administer at will, the torpedo rays are able to ward off the attacks of enemies, and to kill or paralyze their prey. The action is that of a galvanic battery. The dorsal surface is positive, the ventral negative, and the discharge of a large torpedo is sufficient to temporarily disable a man; yet it is not so powerful as that from a big electric eel.