Aetomylaeus vespertilio 

Scope: Global
Language: English

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Chondrichthyes Myliobatiformes Myliobatidae

Scientific Name: Aetomylaeus vespertilio (Bleeker, 1852)
Common Name(s):
English Ornate Eagle Ray, Reticulate Eagle Ray
Aetomylaeus reticulates (Teng, 1962)
Myliobatis vespertilio Bleeker, 1852
Taxonomic Source(s): Eschmeyer, W.N., Fricke, R. and Van der Laan, R. (eds). 2016. Catalog of Fishes: genera, species, references. Updated 31 March 2016. Available at: (Accessed: 31 March 2016).
Taxonomic Notes: This species is poorly represented in collections. The lack of specimens has caused some nomenclatural problems that have not been fully resolved. Older scientific names may apply to earlier growth stages of this species.

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Endangered A2d ver 3.1
Year Published: 2016
Date Assessed: 2015-05-16
Assessor(s): White, W.T. & Kyne, P.M.
Reviewer(s): Walls, R.H.L. & Dulvy, N.K.
Contributor(s): Walls, R.H.L.
Facilitator/Compiler(s): Kyne, P.M. & Walls, R.H.L.
The Ornate Eagle Ray (Aetomylaeus vespertilio) is a large (to 240 cm disc width), uncommon eagle ray that has not been sighted in any great numbers since its description more than 160 years ago. It has a widespread but patchy distribution in the Indo-West Pacific. The species is highly susceptible to a variety of fishing methods in regions where the level of exploitation of marine resources is intense and increasing (for example, India, Thailand, Taiwan, and Indonesia). It is occasionally caught by the rhynchobatid gillnet fishery that operates in Southeast Asia. In the Gulf of Thailand, eagle rays are now extremely rare, and this may be representative of other areas where the Ornate Eagle Ray occurs. In Australian waters the fishing pressure would not be very high but it is rarely observed there. It is suspected to have limiting life history parameters similar to other myliobatid rays, including low fecundity. The Ornate Eagle Ray is assessed as Endangered due to suspected population declines exceeding 50% over the last three generations (45 years) as a result of very high, ongoing (and increasing) levels of fishing pressure across the majority of its distribution.
Previously published Red List assessments:

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:The Ornate Eagle Ray has a sporadic distribution in the Indo-West Pacific from Mozambique, the Red Sea, India, the Maldives, Southeast Asia and the Philippines, China and Taiwan, and across northern Australia (Bonfil and Abdallah 2004, Compagno et al. 2005, Last and Stevens 2009, Benjamin et al. 2012).
Countries occurrence:
Australia (Northern Territory, Queensland, Western Australia); China; India; Indonesia (Jawa, Kalimantan); Malaysia; Maldives; Mozambique; Philippines; Taiwan, Province of China; Thailand
FAO Marine Fishing Areas:
Indian Ocean – western; Indian Ocean – eastern; Pacific – northwest; Pacific – western central
Additional data:
Lower depth limit (metres):110
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:The species appears to be naturally uncommon and is rarely observed. Nothing is known of its overall population size or structure. However, based on the intrinsic sensitivity of this eagle ray to overexploitation (see the Habitats and Ecology section below), and the presence of unregulated fisheries throughout its entire range (see the Threats section below), the species is suspected to have undergone a population decline exceeding 50% over the past three generations (45 years).
Current Population Trend:Decreasing
Additional data:

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:The Ornate Eagle Ray is a little known species. It occurs on the inner continental shelf to depths of 110 m over soft sandy substrate (Compagno and Last 1999). It reaches a maximum size of 240 cm disc width (W. White, unpubl. data). Reproductive biology is unknown for this species but it is suspected to have low fecundity as with other myliobatids, which bear litters of up to four offspring (Compagno and Last 1999, Last and Stevens 2009). Age and growth estimates are not available, although generation length can be inferred as approximately 15 years based on parameters from the Bat Ray (Myliobatis californicus), which matures at five years and reaches a maximum age of 24 years (Martin and Cailliet 1988).
Generation Length (years):15

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade: This species is probably widely utilized for meat and cartilage when caught across its range (for example, Indonesia; White et al. 2006), with the exception of northern Australia.

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): This eagle ray is highly susceptible to a variety of inshore demersal fisheries, including trawls, gillnets and trammel nets which operate intensively throughout its range (for example, India, Thailand, Taiwan, and Indonesia). All individuals caught are retained in most areas. Local eagle ray species are marketed in considerable numbers in Thailand and Malaysia (Compagno and Last 1999). The Ornate Eagle Ray is occasionally landed in low numbers in the fish markets of Jakarta (Indonesia) by trawlers and is occasionally caught by the rhynchobatid gillnet fishery that operates in Southeast Asia (W. White, unpubl. data). Even though once common, eagle rays are now rare in the Gulf of Thailand (Compagno and Last 1999). Intensive demersal fisheries occur in India, within the species' known distribution (Hanfee 1999). There is very high level of exploitation across the habitat that this species occurs in throughout its range, with the exception of northern Australia.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: There are currently no species-specific conservation measures in place. Given the rarity of this species, its occurrence in heavily fished inshore areas and its susceptibility to capture in a variety of fishing gear, it is likely to need legal protection in order to manage harvest and trade. However, this can be difficult to enforce in many countries where it occurs.

Citation: White, W.T. & Kyne, P.M. 2016. Aetomylaeus vespertilio. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016: e.T60121A68607665. . Downloaded on 18 August 2018.
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