Torpedo suessii 

Scope: Global
Language: English

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Chondrichthyes Rajiformes Torpedinidae

Scientific Name: Torpedo suessii Steindachner, 1898
Common Name(s):
English Red Sea Torpedo
Torpedo suessi Steindachner, 1898
Taxonomic Source(s): Weigmann, S. 2016. Annotated checklist of the living sharks, batoids and chimaeras (Chondrichthyes) of the world, with a focus on biogeographical diversity. Journal of Fish Biology 88(3): 837-1037.
Taxonomic Notes: Previously Torpedo suessi was considered a junior synonym of T. sinuspersici (Carvalho et al. 2002). Garman (1913) considered T. suessi to be a valid species, but thought that it may be synonymous with T. panthera. However, Carvalho et al. (2002) believe that this is not possible due to the inconceivability that the ornate colour pattern of T. suessi could transform into the typical pattern of small, irregular whitish spots present in T. panthera. Rather than being a synonym of T. sinuspersici, or T. panthera, it is much more likely that T. suessi is a valid species that occurs at least in the southern Red Sea (Carvalho et al. 2002). This species may also be identifiable with the paralectotype of T. fuscomaculata, but there is some uncertainty surrounding this, and T. suessi would still prove to be a valid species even it if it was conspecific with the paralectotype (Carvalho et al. 2002).

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Critically Endangered (Possibly Extinct) B1ab(v) ver 3.1
Year Published: 2017
Date Assessed: 2017-02-06
Assessor(s): Kyne, P.M., Tesfamichael, D., Fernando, D. & Bineesh, K.K.
Reviewer(s): Jabado, R. & Pollom, R.
Facilitator/Compiler(s): Jabado, R., Kyne, P.M.
The Red Sea Torpedo (Torpedo suessii) has not been recorded since its original collection in 1898. It is known only from a very small area (estimated to be <100 km²) off Mocha, Yemen in the southern Red Sea. It has not been recorded in landing site surveys in adjacent countries such as the Saudi Arabian Red Sea and Sudan, or in underwater survey work in Saudi Arabia. Artisanal and industrial fisheries are ongoing and intense in Yemeni waters, and illegal fishing is a serious issue. Industrial fishing commenced in 1970 and overall Yemen Red Sea catches have undergone a major decline from a peak in the late 1990s. While electric rays are generally not utilized, survival of bycatch is very low. Due to a very limited extent of occurrence, presence in only one location, and an ongoing decline inferred from intensive and ongoing fishing, the species is assessed as Critically Endangered under criterion B1ab(v). Given that it has not been recorded for nearly 120 years (this species has a distinct colour pattern and is very recognisable), it is considered Possibly Extinct.
Date last seen: 1898
Previously published Red List assessments:

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:The Red Sea Torpedo is endemic to the Arabian Seas region, and is known only from the southern Red Sea at Mocha, Yemen (Steindachner 1898, Carvalho et al. 2002). While Carvalho et al. (2002) suggests that a photo provided from the Sudanese Red Sea is thought to be of the Red Sea Torpedo, the photo evidence is not convincing and the species is here considered to be known only off Yemen.
Countries occurrence:
Possibly extinct:
FAO Marine Fishing Areas:
Possibly extinct:
Indian Ocean – western
Additional data:
Continuing decline in area of occupancy (AOO):Unknown
Extreme fluctuations in area of occupancy (AOO):UnknownEstimated extent of occurrence (EOO) - km2:99
Continuing decline in extent of occurrence (EOO):UnknownExtreme fluctuations in extent of occurrence (EOO):Unknown
Number of Locations:1Continuing decline in number of locations:Unknown
Extreme fluctuations in the number of locations:Unknown
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:Population size is unknown but is likely very small given that the species has only been recorded from one location off Yemen. The species has not been recorded since its original description in 1898 (Steindachner 1898). Further research is needed in order to determine whether the species is still extant.
Current Population Trend:Unknown
Additional data:
Continuing decline of mature individuals:Yes
Extreme fluctuations:UnknownPopulation severely fragmented:No
Continuing decline in subpopulations:Unknown
Extreme fluctuations in subpopulations:UnknownAll individuals in one subpopulation:Yes

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:Specific details of this species' habitat and depth range are unknown. This species is known to reach at least 29 cm total length (Carvalho et al. 2002).
Continuing decline in area, extent and/or quality of habitat:Unknown
Movement patterns:Unknown

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade:

No utilization or commercial trade of this species is currently known to exist. Electric rays are usually discarded at sea.

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): Industrial and artisanal trawl fisheries operate off Yemen (Morgan 2006, Tesfamichael et al. 2012). Industrial fishing commenced in 1970 with a peak in catches in the late 1990s, and a decline by the end of the 2000s (Tesfamichael et al. 2012). Illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) is a major issue in Yemen (Alabsi and Komatsu 2014).

This species has not been seen in landings in adjacent areas such as the Saudi Arabian Red Sea or Sudan. The sluggish benthic nature of electric rays make them susceptible to trawl capture and survivorship of discarded electric rays at sea is low.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions:

Currently there are no conservation actions in place that might benefit this species in the waters it which it occurs. An urgent assessment of the status of the species is required, particularly through underwater and landings surveys in the area of original collection.

Citation: Kyne, P.M., Tesfamichael, D., Fernando, D. & Bineesh, K.K. 2017. Torpedo suessii. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2017: e.T161613A109911839. . Downloaded on 15 October 2018.
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