|Scientific Name:||Aetobatus narinari|
|Species Authority:||(Euphrasen, 1790)|
Raja narinari Euphrasen, 1790
|Taxonomic Notes:||The wide-ranging A. narinari is most probably a species-complex comprising numerous forms across its range. Based on external morphology, colouration, parasite fauna and distribution there are likely at least four species of "spotted eagle rays" (J. Caira pers. comm.). Revision of the species may show that there are indeed more forms. Molecular research is presently underway to help resolve this issue.
Compagno et al. (2005) reported narrow and wide disc morphs from the Philippines, which they suggest may represent separate species, with the broad specimens typical of Pacific A.narinari.
The type locality for A. narinari is uncertain as no types are known, but is thought to be Brazil. If indeed Indo-Pacific forms are shown to be distinct from Atlantic forms then Indo-Pacific species are nominal.
|Red List Category & Criteria:||Near Threatened ver 3.1|
|Assessor(s):||Kyne, P.M., Ishihara, H, Dudley, S.F.J. & White, W.T.|
|Reviewer(s):||Fowler, S.L. & Compagno, L.J.V. (Shark Red List Authority)|
A large eagle ray with a widespread distribution across the Indo-Pacific and eastern and western Atlantic in tropical and warm-temperate waters. Recorded over the continental shelf from the surface to 60 m depth in coastal and open ocean environments. Sometimes enters lagoons and estuaries and is often associated with coral-reef ecosystems. The presently known Aetobatus narinari is most probably a species-complex of at least four different species. However, it is here considered as a single species as presently recognised. Taxonomic resolution of this issue is of priority as each form will have a more restricted range than the presently described wide-ranging species, which will alter the potential affects of threatening processes on each subpopulation.
The 2000 Red List assessment for Aetobatus narinari incorrectly classified the species as "relatively fecund". Females bear a maximum of four pups/litter after a gestation period of probably a year. These limited biological parameters, the species' inshore habitat and hence availability to a wide variety of inshore fishing gear (beach seine, gillnet, purse seine, benthic longline, trawl etc.), its marketability and the generally intense and unregulated nature of inshore fisheries across large parts of the species' range warrant a global listing of Near Threatened, and a Vulnerable listing in Southeast Asia where fishing pressure is particularly intense and the species is a common component of landings (future declines of >30% are expected, if they have not already occurred). With further data it will likely fall into a threatened category in other regions also. For example, although specific details are not available, pressure on the inshore environment through artisanal fishing activities off West Africa, eastern Africa, throughout the Arabian Sea, the Bay of Bengal and in large portions of the species? American range has likely affected this species. There is nothing to suggest that pressure will decrease in these regions in the future. In a few parts of its range (e.g., South Africa, the Maldives, the USA and Australia) the species faces lower levels of threat, but overall, pressure on the species is high and likely to cause population depletions. Management and conservation measures considering harvest and trade management need to be implemented immediately.
|Range Description:||Widespread in tropical and warm temperate waters. Aetobatus narinari is probably a species-complex with different forms having more restricted ranges than the presently considered wide-ranging single species.|
Native:Angola (Angola); Anguilla; Antigua and Barbuda; Australia (New South Wales, Northern Territory, Queensland, Western Australia); Bahamas; Bahrain; Bangladesh; Barbados; Belize; Benin; Bermuda; Brazil; Brunei Darussalam; Cambodia; Cameroon; Cayman Islands; China; Colombia; Congo; Congo, The Democratic Republic of the; Costa Rica; Côte d'Ivoire; Cuba; Djibouti; Dominica; Dominican Republic; Ecuador (Galápagos); Egypt; El Salvador; Equatorial Guinea; Eritrea; Fiji; French Guiana; Gabon; Gambia; Ghana; Grenada; Guadeloupe; Guatemala; Guinea; Guinea-Bissau; Guyana; Haiti; Honduras; India; Indonesia; Iran, Islamic Republic of; Iraq; Israel; Jamaica; Japan; Jordan; Kenya; Korea, Democratic People's Republic of; Korea, Republic of; Kuwait; Liberia; Madagascar; Malaysia; Martinique; Mauritania; Mexico (Baja California, Baja California Sur, Campeche, Chiapas, Colima, Guerrero, Jalisco, Michoacán, Nayarit, Oaxaca, Quintana Roo, Sinaloa, Sonora, Tabasco, Tamaulipas, Veracruz, Yucatán); Micronesia, Federated States of ; Montserrat; Mozambique; Myanmar; New Caledonia; Nicaragua; Nigeria; Oman; Pakistan; Panama; Papua New Guinea; Philippines; Puerto Rico; Qatar; Saint Kitts and Nevis; Saint Lucia; Saint Vincent and the Grenadines; Sao Tomé and Principe; Saudi Arabia; Senegal; Sierra Leone; Singapore; Solomon Islands; Somalia; South Africa; Sri Lanka; Sudan; Suriname; Taiwan, Province of China; Tanzania, United Republic of; Thailand; Timor-Leste; Togo; Trinidad and Tobago; Turks and Caicos Islands; United Arab Emirates; United States (Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Hawaiian Is., Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas); Venezuela, Bolivarian Republic of; Viet Nam; Virgin Islands, British; Virgin Islands, U.S.; Yemen
|FAO Marine Fishing Areas:||
Atlantic – eastern central; Atlantic – southeast; Atlantic – southwest; Atlantic – western central; Indian Ocean – eastern; Indian Ocean – western; Pacific – eastern central; Pacific – northwest; Pacific – southeast; Pacific – southwest; Pacific – western central
|Range Map:||Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.|
|Population:||Population structure of the various forms will likely differ and will need to be considered on a species by species basis once taxonomic issues are resolved.|
|Habitat and Ecology:||
Coastal and semipelagic over the continental shelf from the surface to 60 m depth. Sometimes enters lagoons and estuaries and often associated with coral-reef ecosystems (Michael 1993, Homma et al. 1994, Last and Stevens 1994). Solitary or found in large schools of up to several hundred individuals (McEachran and de Carvalho 2002). Although primarily observed near the coast and around islands and reefs, the species is likely to be capable of crossing ocean basins (Compagno and Last 1999).
Around coral reef environments, spotted eagle rays often enter coral lagoons to feed (Pohnpei Island, Federated States of Micronesia; Homma et al. 1994). Diet consists of a wide variety of benthic species including polychaetes, bivalve and gastropod molluscs, cephalopods, crustaceans and teleost fishes (Homma and Ishihara 1994, Last and Stevens 1994, Compagno and Last 1999, McEachran and de Carvalho 2002) with fish important prey items for adults (Michael 1993).
Aplacental viviparous. Little information available on reproductive biology although known to have low fecundity, bearing 1 to 4 pups/litter (Last and Stevens 1994). Homma et al. (1994) observed three gravid females in the Caroline Islands, two individuals carrying a single embryo and one carrying two embryos. Gestation has been reported at 12 months (Michael 1993) and reproductive periodicity may not be annual. These factors combine for limited reproductive output. Reported to reach sexual maturity after 4 to 6 years (Last and Stevens 1994). Although reaches 330 cm DW most observed are less than 200 cm DW (Compagno and Last 1999).
Catches taken in the protective shark nets off the beaches of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, occur throughout the year but peak in summer (January and February) (Young 2001). The overall sex ratio is unity but there is a significant association between sex and time of year, with more males than females caught in summer and more females than males in winter. Median disc width for each sex is 100 cm (Young 2001). Catches are rare in the southern part of the netted region, an apparent consequence of lower water temperatures (Young 2001).
It should be recognised that life history parameters are likely to vary between the different forms of A. narinari, which may turn out to represent interspecific differences.
Life history parameters
Age at maturity: 4 to 6 years (Last and Stevens 1994) (female); 4 to 6 years (Last and Stevens 1994) (male).
Size at maturity (total length): Unknown (female); Between 100 and 115 cm DW (Indonesia; W. White unpubl. data) (male).
Longevity (years): Unknown.
Maximum size (total length): 330 cm DW (Last and Stevens 1994).
Size at birth: 26 cm DW (Last and Stevens 1994), 17 to 36 cm DW (Compagno and Last 1999).
Average reproductive age (years): Unknown.
Gestation time: 12 months (Michael 1993), but may be less..
Reproductive periodicity: Unknown.
Average annual fecundity or litter size: 1 to 4 pups/litter (Last and Stevens 1994).
Annual rate of population increase: Unknown.
Natural mortality: Unknown.
Details of catches of this species throughout its range are scant. Nevertheless its small litter size, schooling behaviour, inshore habitat and hence availability to a wide variety of inshore fishing gear (beach seine, gillnet, purse seine, benthic longline, trawl etc.), its marketability and the generally intense and unregulated nature of inshore fisheries across large parts of the species' range warrant a global listing of Near Threatened, and a Vulnerable listing in Southeast Asia where fishing pressure is particularly intense and the species is a common component of landings. With further data it will likely fall into a threatened category in other regions also.
This species occurs in coastal inshore waters where fishing pressure is typically very heavy, especially in SE Asian waters, in parts of Africa and through portions of the species' range in the Americas. The strong swimming nature of this species makes it quite susceptible to a range of fisheries, especially inshore gill net fisheries, which are extremely intensive in some regions (for example, Kalimantan in Indonesia). The species also enters estuarine waters where fishing pressure is also extremely high and where (in SE Asia at least) pollution is also a major factor for all marine life.
The species is likely to contribute substantially to numerous inshore artisanal fisheries across its range and it is known to be landed regularly in some places. In Southeast Asia, Aetobatus narinari is landed in most countries within its range, for example, Indonesia (W. White unpublished data), Thailand (Vidthayanon 2002), the Philippines (Compagno et al. 2005), Taiwan (W. White and P. Kyne pers. obs.) and Malaysia (Manjaji 2002), all of which are countries where fishing pressure on the inshore environment is intense and generally unregulated. In Indonesia the species is presently caught consistently but in only small numbers in many fisheries (W. White unpublished data) and expected future declines in SE Asia are the basis for the Vulnerable listing there. The species is probably widely utilized across its range (Compagno and Last 1999) due to its availability to fisheries. Fishing pressure on the inshore environment across most of the species' range is only likely to increase in the future.
Off eastern Africa, it is commonly caught by artisanal fishermen, in bottom set gillnets, trawls and longlines in Tanzania (Bianchi 1985), by artisanal gillnet fisheries off northern Madagascar (Doukakis and Jonahson 2003, Robinson in prep.) and by hook and line and harpoon off Somalia (Sommer et al. 1996).
Although specific details are not available, pressure on the inshore environment through artisanal fishing activities off West Africa, throughout the Arabian Sea, the Bay of Bengal and in large portions of the species' American range has likely affecting this species. There is nothing to suggest that pressure will decrease in these regions in the future.
In South Africa, between 1981 and 2000 there was a non-significant increasing trend in catch of A. narinari in the protective shark nets off KwaZulu-Natal (Young 2001). Of the mean annual catch of 16 animals, 82% were released alive. The species contributed 4.6% to the total batoid catch. Aetobatus narinari is taken in small numbers as bycatch in a shallow water prawn trawl fishery that operates off central KwaZulu-Natal (Fennessy 1994).
It is a popular public aquarium species and is collected for the marine aquarium trade. In some localities it is likely to be persecuted when considered a pest of mollusc aquaculture farms, as has occurred with other myliobatid species, for example Myliobatis californicus (Gray et al. 1997).
In a few parts of its range the species faces lower levels of threat. These include South Africa where catch levels are low, the USA where the species is protected in Florida (see Conservation Measures below), the Maldives where the exportation of ray product is banned, parts of Oceania where human populations are low, and Australia. The species is afforded some protection and impact reduction in parts of Australia in Marine Protected Areas, by the use of Turtle Exclusion Devices in prawn trawl fisheries and because of spiritual significance in some indigenous communities (see Conservation Measures). However, there is still concern for the species in Australia where it is taken as bycatch in inshore net fisheries and marketed as ?skate wings?, ?ray flaps? or ?eagle ray flaps?. Eagle ray is becoming an increasingly popular seafood product in Australia and the landing of this product is likely to increase in the future.
Fisheries taking A. narinari are generally unmanaged throughout large parts of the species' range. Attempts to monitor and regulate fisheries in these regions would greatly improve conservation of this and other chondrichthyans. Monitoring (including species-specific catch details) of any directed elasmobranch landings and bycatch are necessary to provide valuable information on the population status of these rays. Fishery-independent surveys of this and other elasmobranchs are necessary to provide estimates of abundance and biomass.
In addition to species-specific catch details, life history information including age, growth, longevity, movement patterns, habitat use, potential nursery areas, diet, and further reproductive studies are necessary to develop effective conservation actions for A. narinari. Direct estimates of fishing and natural mortality are critical for assessing fisheries impacts on a particular species.
Of highest priority is the resolution of taxonomic issues to better define the actual ranges of the various forms/species of the A. narinari species-complex.
A recent reduction in the number of protective shark nets off KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, will help to limit catches in that region. The recreational line fishery in South Africa is managed by a bag limit of one/species/person/day for unspecified chondrichthyans, which includes A. narinari.
This species is protected in Florida State waters under the Florida Adminstrative Code, with the purpose of increasing public awareness of the need for extensive conservation action. As such, the spotted eagle ray cannot be harvested, possessed, landed, purchased, sold or exchanged in Florida.
The species is afforded protection on the east coast of Australia in the extensive Great Barrier Reef Marine Park (although only a third of the park is closed to commercial fishing) and the use of Turtle Exclusion Devices (TEDs) in prawn trawl fisheries across northern Australia is mandatory. TEDs are likely to decrease the catch of at least large individuals, as was shown for numerous batoid species by Stobutzki et al. (2002). The spiritual significance of these rays to some indigenous communities has limited traditional catches in parts of northern Australia (Puruntatameri et al. 2001).
In the Maldives, the species is afforded protection in marine reserves created around diving sites in recognition of the high value of sharks and rays to tourism (Anderson and Waheed 2001). The Maldives also banned the export of rays in 1995 and the export of ray skins in 1996. Again, this was to protect the tourism resource (Anderson and Waheed 2001).
The development and implementation of management plans (national and/or regional e.g., under the FAO International Plan of Action for the Conservation and Management of Sharks: IPOA-Sharks) are required to facilitate the conservation and management of all elasmobranch species. See Anon. (2004) for an update of progress made towards development and implementation of National Plans of Action for countries across the range of A. narinari.
|Citation:||Kyne, P.M., Ishihara, H, Dudley, S.F.J. & White, W.T. 2006. Aetobatus narinari. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2014.3. <www.iucnredlist.org>. Downloaded on 06 March 2015.|
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