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Neotrygon ningalooensis

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
ANIMALIA CHORDATA CHONDRICHTHYES RAJIFORMES DASYATIDAE

Scientific Name: Neotrygon ningalooensis
Species Authority: Last, White & Puckridge, 2010
Common Name(s):
English Ningaloo Maskray
Taxonomic Notes: There is uncertainty about the identification of some specimens referred to as the Ningaloo Maskray (Neotrygon ningalooensis). Those from Shark Bay (Western Australia) and Gove (Northern Territory) need to be further validated as being the same species. There is some evidence that the Shark Bay population could represent an additional species (W.T. White unpubl. data 2010), which may affect the assessment of this species, as the restricted geographic range could become more of an issue with any threats.

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Data Deficient ver 3.1
Year Published: 2011
Date Assessed: 2011-01-13
Assessor(s): Ferretti, F. & White, W.T.
Reviewer(s): Fowler, S.L., Mull, C. & Simpfendorfer, C.
Justification:
The Ningaloo Maskray (Neotrygon ningalooensis) is a recently described species from northern and western Australia. This species appears to inhabit only very shallow waters (<5 m depth) in which there are no commercial fisheries likely to catch this species and it is unlikely that recreational fisheries will influence this species. The marine protected areas in the Ningaloo Marine Park and a World Heritage Area at Shark Bay are likely to offer substantial protection for this species. The main threat to this species into the future would likely be from habitat destruction (e.g., marina/canal developments, reef destruction). Its shallow and narrow bathymetric range might cause some concern for its possible exposure to multiple coastal perturbations due to human activities in other parts of its range, which are currently poorly known. Additional information is required to better assess its conservation status.

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:

The Ningaloo Maskray was described from Ningaloo Marine Park, in particular near Five Fingers Reef, south of Coral Bay (23°10’S, 113°45’E), further north at Lakeside (22°39’S, 113°55’E) and near Bundegi Reef, in Exmouth Gulf (21°49’S, 114°10’E). Additionally, this species possibly occurs from Shark Bay, Western Australia (25°46’S, 113°41’E), to near Gove, Northern Territory (Last et al. 2010). However, see comments in the taxonomic notes section regarding taxonomic issues. It appears that this species occurs in only very shallow waters (<5 m) on soft sediments close to reef. However, the actual area of occupancy could be much smaller as the species distribution could be quite patchy and fragmented. The Ningaloo Maskray’s distribution is possibly related to its habitat preferences (Last et al. 2010).

Countries:
Native:
Australia (Northern Territory, Western Australia)
FAO Marine Fishing Areas:
Native:
Indian Ocean – eastern; Pacific – western central
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:

The Ningaloo Maskray is a recently described species whose identification is based on only a few records, thus not much information on population size and structure is currently available. The Shark Bay specimens appear to be genetically distinct from those collected at Ningaloo Marine Park, but they show no obvious differences in morphometrics or meristics (Last et al. 2010). This species might be misidentified with other congeners, but it is quite distinctive and the reason for its only recent discovery is probably mostly a result of the very shallow habitat of this species.

Population Trend: Unknown

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:

The Ningaloo Maskray is a shallow water demersal species inhabiting bottoms with soft sediments adjacent to reef areas. Depth range appears to be very narrow (<5 m) based on the records known to date. The species can hide burying itself into bottom sediments. Its protrusible eyes can give the Ningaloo Maskray a selective advantage relative to other similar species, as they allow the species to bury deeper than congeners, and thus to observe its surroundings, be camouflaged, and avoid predators more effectively than other species. Maximum known size is 30.2 cm disc width (Last et al. 2010).

Systems: Marine

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade: There is no known trade of the Ningaloo Maskray.

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): Since the Ningaloo Maskray occurs in very shallow water, it is unlikely that the majority of fisheries occurring within its range adversely affect it (for example, the species has never been recorded in trawls; Last et al. 2010). However, due to this shallow water nature, it is susceptible to habitat modifications, damage or removal. In its definite known range, Ningaloo Marine Park, there are a large number of protected areas, which will protect this species from such threats. Likewise, the Shark Bay populations are also offered protection from the fact that it is a World Heritage Area in a remote region. Coastal activities such as salt mining, marina developments and other habitat disturbances would be a substantial threat to this species in other areas.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: The Ningaloo Maskray’s extent of occurrence partly overlaps with Ningaloo Marine Park (NMP), which stretches for over 300 km along the Western Australian coastline. Hence some populations benefit from a protection regime in these areas since 1987 when the park was established. Another population occurs within the remote World Heritage Area of Shark Bay.

Citation: Ferretti, F. & White, W.T. 2011. Neotrygon ningalooensis. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2014.2. <www.iucnredlist.org>. Downloaded on 30 September 2014.
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