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Torpedo marmorata

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
ANIMALIA CHORDATA CHONDRICHTHYES RAJIFORMES TORPEDINIDAE

Scientific Name: Torpedo marmorata
Species Authority: Risso, 1810
Common Name(s):
English Spotted Torpedo, Marbled Electric Ray, Marbled Torpedo
French Torpille Marbrée
Spanish Tembladera
Taxonomic Notes: This species is sometimes called spotted electric ray, which has resulted in confusion between this species and the blackspotted electric ray (T. foscomaculata).

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Data Deficient ver 3.1
Year Published: 2009
Date Assessed: 2003-09-30
Annotations:
Needs updating
Assessor(s): Notarbartolo di Sciara, G., Serena, F.,Ungaro, N., Ferretti, F., Pheeha, S. & Human, B.
Reviewer(s): Cavanagh, R.D., Valenti, S.V. & Fowler, S.L. (Shark Red List Authority)
Justification:
The Spotted Torpedo (Torpedo marmorata) seems to have a wide distribution throughout the eastern Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea. Its life history traits are relatively well known, however its abundance and possible threats faced by this species are not well known throughout its range. Trawl survey data indicate that this species is more common that other Torpedo species in the northern Mediterranean Sea and may be increasing in coastal waters of Italy. Little is known of population trends or the impact of fisheries off western Africa and throughout the rest of its range, where demersal trawl effort is high. Therefore it is assessed as Data Deficient globally at present, until information on its population status can be obtained from throughout its range.

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description: Eastern Atlantic and Mediterranean Sea: from the northern UK, south to Cape of Good Hope, South Africa, and throughout the Mediterranean Sea (Whitehead et al. 1984).
Countries:
Native:
Albania; Algeria; Angola (Angola, Angola, Cabinda); Benin; Cameroon; Congo; Congo, The Democratic Republic of the; Côte d'Ivoire; Croatia; Cyprus; Egypt (Egypt (African part)); Equatorial Guinea (Equatorial Guinea (mainland)); France (Corsica, France (mainland)); Gabon; Gambia; Ghana; Greece (East Aegean Is., Greece (mainland), Kriti); Guinea; Guinea-Bissau; Israel; Italy (Italy (mainland), Sardegna, Sicilia); Lebanon; Liberia; Libya; Mauritania; Montenegro; Morocco; Namibia (Namibia (main part)); Nigeria; Portugal (Portugal (mainland)); Senegal; Serbia (Serbia, Serbia); Sierra Leone; South Africa (Western Cape); Spain (Baleares, Canary Is., Spain (mainland)); Syrian Arab Republic; Togo; Tunisia; Turkey (Turkey-in-Asia); United Kingdom (Great Britain, Northern Ireland); Western Sahara
FAO Marine Fishing Areas:
Native:
Atlantic – eastern central; Atlantic – northeast; Atlantic – southeast; Mediterranean and Black Sea
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: Found throughout the Mediterranean. This species has been reported to be more common than the other two Torpedo species in the Adriatic Sea (Torpedo torpedo and Torpedo nobiliana) (Bini 1967). The MEDITS trawl survey covers the north Mediterranean coast almost continuously from western Morocco and Spain in the west Mediterranean to the Aegean Sea in the eastern Mediterranean. A total of 6,336 tows were performed during 1994-1999 in depths ranging from 10-800 m. Torpedo marmorata occurred in 317 of 6,336 hauls (Baino et al. 2001) indicating that it is relatively abundant in the Northern Mediterranean, compared to other elasmobranch species recorded. Bertrand et al. (2000) and Aldebert (1997) both found no evidence for a decline in this species in the northern Mediterranean (southern coast of France). Recent analyses performed using trawl survey data in the Northern Tyrrhenian sea showed that the population is increasing in the coastal zone, probably due to the low commercial value of this species (Ferretti et al. 2005). Preliminary analyses seem to indicate that this species is increasing in abundance off all the Italian coasts (Ferretti unpublished data).
Population Trend: Unknown

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: Torpedo marmorata is benthic, dwelling on soft as well as stony bottoms, sea grasses and rocky reefs and recorded from 10 to 100 m depth (Serena 2005). Avoids temperatures above 20°C. Males reached a maximum size of 38.6 cm total length (TL) and 39.5 cm TL, and females, 61.2 cm TL, 58 cm TL, in studies in Egyptian and Tunisian Mediterranean waters, respectively (Abdel-Aziz 1994, Capape 1979). Males mature at ~21-29 cm TL and females at 31-39 cm TL (Abdel-Aziz 1994, N. Ungaro unpublished data, Capape 1979, Consalvo et al. 2007). Mellinger (1971) reported that females mature at ~12 years and live to 20 years of age, and males mature at five years and live to 12-13 years. Aplacental viviparours with a gestation period of 10-12 months (Abdel-Aziz 1994). Probably breeds every two years, and fecundity appears to increase with the size of the female (Abdel-Aziz 1994, Capape 1979, Consalvo et al. 2007). The breeding season is reported to be in November to December. Females produce 5-32 juveniles, measuring between 10-14cm, the number depending on the size of the female (Whitehead et al. 1984).

Nocturnal, usually burying itself during the day with only the eyes and spiracle jutting out. Feeds mainly on small benthic fishes, but also invertebrates. Can produce electric discharges of up to 200 volts. Electrocytes begin developing when the embryo weighs about 1 g and electric organs are functional before birth and newborns can use their electric organ discharge in capturing prey (Henneman 2001).
Systems: Marine

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade: Rarely utilised. Historically, in Adriatic Sea, Torpedo marmorata was sold smoked although its meat was of the lowest commercial value (Ninni 1912).

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): Taken as bycatch in demersal trawl fisheries, coastal trammel nets and bottom longlines. It is not commercially fished and is often discarded at sea due to its low commercial value (Minervini et al. 1985). Little information is available on catches of this species as a result of discarding at sea and aggregation of landings data. Fishing pressure from demersal trawl fisheries is relatively intensive on the continental shelf off western Africa.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: Precautionary conservation measures should include the live release of individuals caught, improved monitoring of fisheries data, identification of important nursery areas and the establishment of protected areas for such demersal species. Research is also required on abundance, threats, population trends and capture in fisheries throughout the species range.

Citation: Notarbartolo di Sciara, G., Serena, F.,Ungaro, N., Ferretti, F., Pheeha, S. & Human, B. 2009. Torpedo marmorata. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2014.2. <www.iucnredlist.org>. Downloaded on 31 August 2014.
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