Rhinoraja murrayi 

Scope: Global
Language: English

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Chondrichthyes Rajiformes Arhynchobatidae

Scientific Name: Rhinoraja murrayi (Günther, 1880)
Common Name(s):
English Murray's Skate
Bathyraja murrayi (Günther, 1880)
Raja murrati Günther, 1880
Taxonomic Notes: Compagno (1999, 2005) reallocated this species from Bathyraja to the genus Rhinoraja but the validity of this move remains unconfirmed. Both are currently in use, until a definitive systematic revision of these genera is conducted.

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Near Threatened ver 3.1
Year Published: 2009
Date Assessed: 2004-09-09
Needs updating
Assessor(s): Stehmann, M. & Huveneers, C.
Reviewer(s): Valenti, S.V. & Pollard, D. (Shark Red List Authority)
This Southern Ocean skate has an apparently limited distribution, known only from the Kerguelen and Heard Islands, at depths of 30–650 m. It attains 60 cm total length and its biology is virtually unknown. Murray's Skate (Rhinoraja murrayi) is regularly taken as bycatch in bottom trawl fisheries targeting icefish and Antarctic cod and in longline fisheries for Patagonian Toothfish (Dissostichus eleginoides) to some extent. Illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing effort for Patagonian Toothfish has rapidly increased in recent years, particularly around the Kerguelen Islands and Heard Islands, where Murry's Skate is possibly endemic. An increase of fishing pressure in this location would have dramatic effects on this narrow ranging species. The high level of bycatch and the lack of knowledge of its life history warrant a precautionary assessment of Near Threatened, on the basis of a suspected continuing decline (close to meeting the criteria for Vulnerable A4d). Efforts should be made to monitor population trends, and the assessment should be revisited as further data become available.

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:Antarctic and southern Indian Ocean: presently known only from around Kerguelen and Heard Islands (Stehmann and Bürkel 1990).
Countries occurrence:
French Polynesia; French Southern Territories (Kerguelen); Heard Island and McDonald Islands
FAO Marine Fishing Areas:
Indian Ocean – Antarctic
Additional data:
Lower depth limit (metres):650
Upper depth limit (metres):30
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:Moderately abundant relative to other species of this genus in the Southern Ocean (M. Stehmann pers. obs.).
Current Population Trend:Unknown
Additional data:
Population severely fragmented:No

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:A small species, Murray's Skate (Rhinoraja murrayi) can be found at depths from 30–650 m, although it is apparently more abundant at shallow depths (Stehmann and Bürkel 1990). It attains 60 cm total length (TL) (Stehmann and Bürkel 1990). The smallest recorded juvenile measured 11 cm TL (M. Stehmann pers. obs.). Reproduction is presumably oviparous, like other skates, but its biology is virtually unknown.

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): Regularly taken as bycatch in bottom trawl fisheries targeting Channichthys (icefish) and Notothens (Antarctic Cod), as well as in longline fisheries for Patagonian Toothfish to some extent. Substantial catches of Antarctic cod icefish have been taken on the Kerguelen plateau since the early 1970s (Hender and Larcombe 2007). Fishing effort in the Patagonian Toothfish Dissostichus eleginoides fishery concentrated in the Southern Ocean, has increased in recent years, largely due to illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing in this region (Lack and Sant 2001). Lack and Sant (2001) identified the Kerguelen and Heard Islands, where this species is possibly endemic, as hotspots for IUU fishing activity. High levels of unregulated fishing pressure throughout this species’ range are unlikely to be sustainable, particularly as this species is likely to have limiting life-history characteristics, similar to other deepwater skates.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: Careful monitoring of fishing effort in the area of its occurrence is needed. A stock assessment for skates and rays taken as bycatch in the Heard Islands is underway and will provide further information on the status of this species in this part of its range.

Citation: Stehmann, M. & Huveneers, C. 2009. Rhinoraja murrayi. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2009: e.T161391A5413196. . Downloaded on 15 October 2018.
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