Trygonorrhina fasciata 


Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Chondrichthyes Rajiformes Rhinobatidae

Scientific Name: Trygonorrhina fasciata
Species Authority: Müller & Henle, 1841
Common Name(s):
English Eastern Fiddler Ray, Banjo Shark
Trygonorrhina sp A
Taxonomic Source(s): White, W. 2009. The species formerly known as... Oceania Chondrichthyan Society Newsletter 13: 5.
Taxonomic Notes:

The taxonomy of Trygonorrhina spp. was previously confused because of problems with type information (Last and Stevens 2009, White and Last 2012). Two similarly patterned species were considered allopatric off southern Australia, i.e. the Southern Fiddler Ray (Trygonorrhina fasciata) off southern and southwestern Australia and the Eastern Fiddler Ray (T. sp. A) (Last and Stevens 1994) off eastern Australia. Based on the locality and the illustration of the T. fasciata type specimen, it was identified as the Eastern Fiddler Ray, thus replacing T. sp. A as the name for the eastern species. The Southern Fiddler Ray, previously called T. fasciata, was renamed as T. dumerilii Castelnau, 1873 based on the oldest available name which could be accurately attributed to the southern species (White and Last 2012). 

Trygonorrhina fasciata differs from T. dumerilii by having a diamond-shaped marking behind the eyes, which are parallel in T. dumerilii.

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern ver 3.1
Year Published: 2015
Date Assessed: 2015-03-27
Assessor(s): Huveneers, C.
Reviewer(s): Lawson, J. & Kyne, P.M.
Contributor(s): Graham, K.J.
Facilitator/Compiler(s): Kyne, P.M., Walls, R.H.L., Simpfendorfer, C. & Chin, A.
The Eastern Fiddler Ray (Trygonorrhina fasciata) is a relatively common medium-sized shovelnose ray (reported to attain 120 cm total length), endemic to eastern Australia (southern Queensland and New South Wales) to depths of 100 m. Little is known about the life history and ecology of the Eastern Fiddler Ray, apart from that it is a lecithotrophic (yolk-sac) viviparous species likely to have a protracted period of embryonic diapause similar to the Southern Fiddler Ray (T. dumerilii). Like all Australian shovelnose rays, it inhabits shallow soft substrate habitats and seagrass meadows. In New South Wales, the Eastern Fiddler Ray is not commercially targeted, but is taken as bycatch in commercial trawls. Eastern Fiddler Rays are usually released alive when caught, with a suspected high post-release survival rate. Until 2009, New South Wales catches were combined under 'shovelnose/fiddler ray' and ranged 100-150 tonnes. Based on the New South Wales Status of Fisheries Resources and the species-specific catch reporting initiated in July 2009, the Eastern Fiddler Ray is likely to represent ~20% of the combined 'shovelnose/fiddler ray' catches. Due to previous taxonomic confusion with the Southern Fiddler Ray, the population status of the Eastern Fiddler Ray is mostly unknown as stock assessments have not been performed. Trend analysis of catch-per-unit-effort of what is expected to be the Eastern Fiddler Ray catches from the Southern and Eastern Scalefish and Shark Fishery Eastern region suggest a decreasing trend. This is, however, likely due a very high standardized catch-per-unit-effort in 1998 (2.96 kg km-1) after which standardized catch-per-unit-effort remained stable around 0.24 kg km-1 between 1999 and 2006. Although current catches are apparently low, taxonomic confusion has led to limited biological and ecological information about the species and to no reliable assessment of vulnerability or conservation status of the species. However, the Eastern Fiddler Ray has some refuge in shallow waters where trawling does not occur, and is considered common, as trawl rates in shallow unfished areas can be as high as 40-50 individuals per hour. As such, the species is listed as Least Concern, but future research should focus on assessing the life history parameters (age and growth, and reproduction), vulnerability to exploitation, monitor catches and discarding rates, and should assess the survival rate of individuals once discarded.

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:

The Eastern Fiddler Ray is endemic to eastern Australia occurring from southern Queensland to at least Twofold Bay (New South Wales). Records further south and west might be misidentified Southern Fiddler Ray (T. dumerilii) and need to be verified (Last and Stevens 2009). 

Countries occurrence:
Australia (New South Wales, Queensland)
FAO Marine Fishing Areas:
Pacific – southwest; Pacific – western central
Lower depth limit (metres): 100
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]


The Eastern Fiddler Ray is a relatively common inshore ray throughout its range (Last and Stevens 2009). No definitive population data exists on this species due to taxonomic confusion between the Eastern Fiddler Ray and the Southern Fiddler Ray. In New South Wales, the stock status of the species is uncertain because likely reported catches are unreliable due to grouping between Rhinobatidae and Rhyncobatidae and due to confusion between the Eastern Fiddler Ray and the Eastern Shovelnose Ray (Aptychotrema rotrata). Catch analysis of the Southern and Eastern Scalefish and Shark Fishery were too low to analyse catch-per-unit-effort (CPUE) of the Eastern Fiddler Ray (Walker and Gason 2007). 

Trend analysis was, however, performed on the Southern Fiddler Ray from the Eastern region, which is likely to actually refer to the Eastern Fiddler Ray (T. fasciata) as the Eastern region encompass longitudes 148–151°E, which is further east than the reported distribution of the Southern Fiddler Ray. Although the CPUE analysis suggest a decreasing trend (Walker and Gason 2007), this is likely due to a very high standardized CPUE in 1998 (2.96 kg km-1) after which standardized CPUE remained stable around 0.24 kg km-1 between 1999 and 2006.

Current Population Trend: Unknown
Additional data:

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: Little is known of the life history of the Eastern Fiddler Ray. It occurs from nearshore to depths of 100 m, and like all Australian shovelnose rays it inhabits shallow soft substrate habitats and seagrass meadows (Last and Stevens 2009, Rowling et al. 2010).
The Eastern Fiddler Ray is a lecithotrophic (yolk-sac) viviparous species likely to have a protracted period of embryonic diapause similar to the Southern Fiddler Ray (Marshall et al. 2007). The Eastern Fiddler Ray is reported to reach 120 cm total length (TL), although the largest observed specimen is 92 cm TL (Last and Stevens 2009). Pups are born at less than 25 cm TL (Last and Stevens 2009). No estimate of generation length is available.
Systems: Marine

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade: Based on the closely-related Eastern Fiddler Ray, the flesh is good to eat although only a small quantity is sold in seafood outlets (Last and Stevens 2009). In New South Wales, representing most of the species' distribution, it is often discarded (Rowling et al. 2010).

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s):

Catches of fiddler rays are not recorded or reported as Trygonorrhina species and are usually discarded alive (Rowling et al. 2010). Post-release survival is thought to be high.

In Queensland, shark and ray catches reported between 1990-2007 suggest that the Eastern Fiddler Ray was only landed between 1990 and 1997 and ranged 3-13.6 tonnes, with the highest catch in 1996 (Bensley et al. 2009). 

In New South Wales (NSW), catches of the Eastern Fiddler Ray are reported under the 'shovelnose ray' or the 'fiddler ray' group, which are almost totally caught within the Ocean Trawl Fishery. The Eastern Fiddler Ray was regularly caught during inshore trawls (<75 m depth) along the southern half off NSW, with 1-5 individuals caught per tow and occasionally greater numbers. The Eastern Fiddler Ray was less common on north coast prawn grounds, with only 1-2 individuals caught in 5-10% of the tows north of Coffs Harbour. Commercial landings have been relatively stable since the mid 1990s, with combined annual catches of these two groups ranging 100-150 tonnes until 2007/08, after which it slightly declined to 78-103 tonnes between 2008/09 and 2013/14. Although the NSW catch reporting changed in July 20009 and required species being recorded separately, species-specific catches of Rhinobatidae and Rhyncobatidae requires further validation by NSW Department of Primary Industries. Comparison of catches prior and after July 2009 showed an inverse species composition raising concerns about the reliability of species identification. Prior to 2009, catch reports suggest that fiddler rays consisted of ~75% of the catches, although the 2009 Status of NSW Fisheries Resources states that the species only represented ~20% of the combined shovelnose/fiddler ray catches (Rowling et al. 2010). After July 2009 and according to catch records, species composition reversed with fiddler rays representing ~20% of the catches and shovelnose rays representing ~80% of the catches. This drastic change in catch composition is unlikely to be real, but is instead the result of the new species-specific reporting system put in place in July 2009. Based on the Status of Fisheries Resources and the more recent species-specific reporting, it is likely that fiddler rays (i.e., the Eastern Fiddler Ray) represents about 20% of the shovelnose/fiddler ray catches. Untrawled or lightly trawled shallow water areas will likely contain higher numbers of the Eastern Fiddler Ray providing refuge for the species. For example, the trawl catch rates of unfished grounds around Cape Hawke/Tuncurry was 40-50 individuals per hour (K. Graham, pers. comm., March 2015). 

Trygonorrhina species are taken within the Southern and Eastern Scalefish and Shark Fishery (SESSF). Estimates of mean annual catch mass of Eastern Fiddler Ray (reported as T. sp A) during 2000–06 was 130 kg from the South East Trawl Fishery Danish seine, with all specimens discarded (Walker and Gason 2007).

No recreational catches of Trygonorrhina species were reported in either the National Recreational and Indigenous Fishing Survey (Henry and Lyle 2003), the South Australian Recreational Fishing Survey 2007/08 (Jones 2009), or the boat-based recreational fishing survey from Western Australia 2011/12 (Ryan et al. 2013), suggesting that fiddler ray catches are minor and likely discarded. 

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: There are currently no management or conservation measures in place for this species, although species-specific catches are reported for the Eastern Fiddler Ray in New South Wales.

This species is potentially protected within the Australian marine protected areas, marine parks and nature reserves in which it occurs.

Citation: Huveneers, C. 2015. Trygonorrhina fasciata. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2015: e.T41866A43270478. . Downloaded on 26 November 2015.
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