Narcine vermiculatus 

Scope: Global
Language: English

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Chondrichthyes Rajiformes Narcinidae

Scientific Name: Narcine vermiculatus Breder, 1928
Common Name(s):
English Vermiculate Electric Ray, Wormy Electric Ray
French Raie Électrique Vermiculée
Spanish Raya Eléctrica Rayada, Raya Eléctrica Vermiculada
Taxonomic Notes: A third nominal species of Narcine from the eastern Pacific, N. schmidti Hildebrand (1948) is thought to be a junior synonym of N. vermiculatus (Carvalho 1999).

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Near Threatened ver 3.1
Year Published: 2009
Date Assessed: 2007-01-01
Needs updating
Assessor(s): Bizzarro, J.J., Carvalho, M.R. de & McCord, M.E.
Reviewer(s): Fowler, S.L. & Valenti, S.V. (Shark Red List Authority)
The Vermiculate Electric Ray (Narcine vermiculatus) has a fairly restricted east central Pacific distribution, but its biology, abundance and precise range are poorly known. It is reported from 0-100 m depth, but is typically found on soft bottom habitats in shallow, protected areas of the continental shelf from ~7-50 m depth. A disjunct population has been reported in the southwestern Gulf of California, but reliable records of this species are scarce and a single population in the southern Gulf of California is probable. The heavy trawl pressure in this region and aquaculture developments may detrimentally affect its shallow water habitat. In addition, the Vermiculate Electric Ray is taken incidentally in extensive artisanal and industrial shrimp trawl fisheries off Mazatlan. Although its contribution to these fisheries is mostly unknown, it is probable that populations of this species in heavily fished waters are experiencing, and will continue to experience, considerable fishing mortality. This species is not typically utilized, but incidental catch may appear in markets. The species is assessed as Near Threatened on the basis of suspected declines as a result of continuing high levels of exploitation.

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:Eastern central Pacific: ranges from southern Sonora, Mexico to Costa Rica and (disjunct) from the southwestern Gulf of California (McEachran and Notarbartolo-di-Sciara 1995, Robertson and Allen 2002).
Countries occurrence:
Costa Rica (Costa Rica (mainland)); El Salvador; Guatemala; Mexico (Colima, Guanajuato, Sonora); Nicaragua (Nicaragua (mainland)); United States (California)
FAO Marine Fishing Areas:
Pacific – eastern central
Additional data:
Lower depth limit (metres):100
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:No information is available on the abundance, population structure, or population dynamics of this species.
Current Population Trend:Unknown
Additional data:
Population severely fragmented:No

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:This species is reported from depths of 0-100 m, and is typically found on soft bottom habitats in shallow, protected areas of the continental shelf between 7.2-48.4 m (McEachran and Notarbartolo-di-Sciara 1995, Robertson and Allen 2002).

Biological information for this species is limited. Specimens of around 5.4 cm total length (TL) are free swimming, with very faint yolk-scars (if present) (Carvalho 1999). Males mature at around 19 cm TL, but definitely by 20 cm and females are also thought to reach sexual maturity around 20 cm TL (Carvalho 1999). The species is reported to reach a maximum size of about 60 cm TL (McEachran and Notarbartolo-di-Sciara 1995), but specimens >30 cm TL have not been observed (Bizzarro, pers. obs.). In addition, size at maturity information presented by Carvalho (Carvalho 1999) suggests that maximum size is considerably less than 60 cm TL.

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade: This species may be utilized for subsistence and its flesh may be sold locally by artisanal fishermen, as are other narcinid species, but this has not been reported in Mexico nor in any other portion of its range.

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): This species is threatened by directed artisanal elasmobranch fisheries, bycatch in other fisheries (including shrimp trawls) and habitat modification or loss by mobile fishing gears and aquaculture developments. This species was not observed in artisanal elasmobranch fishery landings in the Gulf of California, Mexico, but other narcinid species were captured (Bizzarro et al. 2007). This, therefore, likely reflects a lack of abundance for this species in this northern fringe of its range and/or reflects inconsistent and incomplete sampling in Sinaloa and Baja California Sur, where it is known to occur. The latter is probably true for at least southern Sinaloa, where N. vermiculatus has been commonly observed among shrimp fishery bycatch (J. Bizzarro per. obs.). More than 12,500 boats are permitted to fish off Sinaloa, including 11,828 artisanal vessels (operating to ~18 m depth) and 785 industrial vessels (operating >18 m depth) (CONAPESCA 2004). Sinaloa is the greatest producer of shrimp in all of Mexico, and the bycatch problem is quite severe and not quantified or reported (J. Bizzarro pers. obs.).There are intensive coastal demersal trawl and gillnet fisheries throughout most of the remainder of its range, but no other fishery information is known to be available for these areas. This species is also likely to be affected by habitat modification. Many embayments and estuaries in Sinaloa, Mexico are being modified to accommodate shrimp farming. Since N. vermiculatus is thought to frequent these areas, this activity could have a detrimental impact on its abundance in affected areas.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: No conservation measures are in place specifically for this species in any portion of its range, although Mexico has developed a national management plan for elasmobranchs, which came into force in 2007 (Mexican Official Standard Rules for Shark and Ray responsible fisheries (NOM-029-PESC-2004-2006)).

Citation: Bizzarro, J.J., Carvalho, M.R. de & McCord, M.E. 2009. Narcine vermiculatus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2009: e.T161423A5420218. . Downloaded on 15 October 2018.
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