dasyatidae

SCIENTISTS UNCOVER THREE NEW STINGRAY SPECIES IN THE INDO-PACIFIC

The bluespotted maskray (Neotrygon kuhlii), once thought to be widely distributed in the Indo-West Pacific, consists of a complex of several species, Australian researchers published their findings in the latest issue of Zootaxa.

Based in genetic molecular and morphological data provide confirmatory evidence that  maskray are distinct groups from some other regional forms. Three members of the complex from the Western Pacific identified in earlier studies are confirmed to be new species:

Australian Bluespotted Maskray Neotrygon australiae (from Australia, New Guinea and eastern Indonesia found in shallow water, 38-90m in 2009) 

A reddish brown to greenish stingray with blue spots and scattered black spots on the disc, a dark ‘mask’ through the eyes and a very long tail with black and white bars on the rear. this new species have two venomous spines on the tail that may cause extremely painful wounds.

Bluespotted Maskray Neotrygon caeruleopunctata (found in the Indian Ocean, from Central Java, Indonesia) Its name Derived from the Latin caeruleus (sky blue) and punctum (dot or spot) with reference to its bluespotted coloration and having a wider distribution than other blue-spotted forms. It have a single caudal sting. it was collected from fish landing sites.

Oriental Bluespotted Maskray Neotrygon orientale (Found in the North-West Pacific) These stingrays were taken from fisheries bycatch and fish landing sites in Kalimantan and West Java (Jakarta) in Indonesia.  Accurate depth information not available but probably found mostly inshore in depths of less than 100 m. 

 Its name demarcates the South-East Asian distribution of this member of the bluespotted maskray complex within the genus Neotrygon. It have a single sting.

These species differ from each other and Neotrygon kuhlii in their adult size, anterior angle of the disc, number and distribution of blue spots on the dorsal disc, and other more subtle morphometric and meristic characters. 

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Leopard whipray - Himantura leoparda

Encountered in the Indo-Pacific from South Africa to Australia, the leopard whipray has a striking pattern of dark brown rings on its dorsal side that gave it its name. Like all species in the Himantura genus, known as the whiprays, it has a very long, thin tail that lacks a dorsal or caudal fin and can measure more than three times the length of its disc. Adults can reach approximately 5.9ft in width and a total length of about 13ft with an intact tail. Due to confusion with the closely related honeycomb and reticulate whiprays, the leopard whipray is not well known. It is heavily fished in parts of Indonesia for its meat and possibly other parts using bottom trawls, tangle nets, and longlines, and has not been classified by the IUCN at this time.

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Bluespotted ribbontail ray - Taeniura lymma

Common throughout nearshore Indo-Pacific reef habitats, the bluespotted ribbontail ray can be easily identified by its electric blue spots and two stripes on the tail. A small species that rarely exceeds 2.5 ft in total length, it hunts at night during high tides and retreats to the reef to shelter during the day when the tide recedes. Prey, usually benthic invertebrates and fish, are trapped by the ray’s body and maneuvered towards the mouth by the pectoral fin disc. There are usually two - sometimes one - serrated venomous spines on the tail. Though currently abundant, the IUCN classes this species as Near Threatened due to the widespread destruction of coral reefs and fishing pressure.