Neotrygon picta 

Scope: Global
Language: English

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Chondrichthyes Myliobatiformes Dasyatidae

Scientific Name: Neotrygon picta Last & White, 2008
Common Name(s):
English Speckled Maskray
Taxonomic Source(s): Eschmeyer, W.N., Fricke, R. and Van der Laan, R. (eds). 2016. Catalog of Fishes: genera, species, references. Updated 29 September 2016. Available at: (Accessed: 29 September 2016).
Taxonomic Notes: The Speckled Maskray (Neotrygon picta) was thought to be a regional colour variant of Neotrygon (formerly Dasyatis) leylandi (Last, 1987) until described as a new species by Last and White (2008). The latter publication also resurrected the genus Neotrygon for the maskray species, Bluespotted Maskray (N. kuhlii), Painted Maskray (N. leylandi), Plain Maskray (N. annotata), Ningaloo Maskray (N. ningalooensis) and the Speckled Maskray.

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern ver 3.1
Year Published: 2015
Date Assessed: 2015-08-24
Assessor(s): Pierce, S.J., White, W.T., Jacobsen, I.P., Barratt, P.J., Last, P.R. & Kyne, P.M.
Reviewer(s): Walls, R.H.L. & Lawson, J.
Contributor(s): Walls, R.H.L.
Facilitator/Compiler(s): Walls, R.H.L. & Kyne, P.M.

The Speckled Maskray (Neotrygon picta) is a small maskray species that is regularly caught as a bycatch of prawn trawl fisheries in northeast Australian coastal waters. This species was previously regarded as a colour morph of the Painted Maskray (N. leylandi). The Speckled Maskray appears to be reasonably common over much of its range, although species-specific population assessment is hampered by the lumping of catches into generic divisions and the recent split of this species from the closely-related Painted Maskray from Western Australia. Recent studies indicate that the species has a low rate of fishing mortality overall in the Northern Prawn Fishery. In addition, the Speckled Maskray is protected within some of the Great Barrier Reef region in its east coast range. However, due to its small size, the Speckled Maskray is unlikely to be effectively excluded by the turtle exclusion devices presently used by the tropical Australian prawn trawl fleet. Individuals caught in these fisheries have a moderately high mortality rate. The species has a low fecundity of 1–3 pups, with preliminary results suggesting an annual reproductive cycle. The Speckled Maskray is listed as Least Concern, with a caveat that this is dependent on the presence of large unfished areas and minimal fisheries effort over some other parts of its range.

Previously published Red List assessments:

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:The Speckled Maskray is found in northeastern Australia (possibly also New Guinea) from the Wessel Islands (Northern Territory) to Hervey Bay (Queensland). The western limit of its distribution has still not been well defined (Last and Stevens 2009).
Countries occurrence:
Australia (Northern Territory, Queensland)
FAO Marine Fishing Areas:
Pacific – western central
Additional data:
Lower depth limit (metres):100
Upper depth limit (metres):5
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]


The Speckled Maskray is a highly abundant species within some parts of its distribution; commonly caught as trawl bycatch within the Northern Prawn Fishery (NPF) in the Gulf of Carpentaria (Zhou and Griffiths 2008). On the east coast, common on Queensland scallop trawling grounds between Yeppoon and Hervey Bay (Kyne et al. 2005), but not commonly encountered on east coast prawn trawl grounds north of Cairns (Kyne 2008). Also a prominent species in the Torres Strait (Pitcher et al. 2007) and a likely component of elasmobranch bycatch in the Torres Strait Prawn Fishery (I.P. Jacobsen, pers. obs., 2010).

There is some evidence for long-term decline in the mean abundance of Neotrygon spp. in the Gulf of Carpentaria, from a mean (± s.e.) of 0.99 ± 0.36 fish ha-1 in 1964 to 0.35 ± 0.08 fish ha-1 in 1986 (Harris and Poiner 1991). While this difference was non-significant, trawl surveys generally lack statistical power (Heales et al. 2007).

The grouping of Neotrygon spp., and recent split of the Speckled Maskray from the Painted Maskray, has obscured species-specific population trends.

Current Population Trend:Unknown
Additional data:

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:

The Speckled Maskray is most common in shallow water less than 25 m depth but probably to about 100 m (Last and Stevens 2009, I.P. Jacobsen, pers. obs., 2010). It is a small species, attaining a disc width (DW) of up to around 32 cm (Jacobsen and Bennett 2010). The most comprehensive analysis of the species' biology was undertaken by Jacobsen and Bennett (2010) based on prawn trawl bycatch specimens from northeast Australia. Size at 50% maturity in females was 18.1 cm DW, and age at maturity was 3–4 years. The smallest gravid female was 17.2 cm DW (Jacobsen and Bennett 2010). The species has a low fecundity with 1–3 embryos per litter (Jacobsen and Bennett 2010). Preliminary investigation (Jacobsen 2008) suggested that the Speckled Maskray undergoes a single reproductive event annually.


Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade: The Speckled Maskray is not harvested commercially in Australia (Last and Stevens 2009).

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s):

As with many other small demersal stingrays, the Speckled Maskray is highly susceptible to capture in trawl fisheries. It is a common component of prawn trawl bycatch (which is discarded) within its range. Survivorship is generally unknown, and probably dependent on the method of capture. Stobutzki et al. (2002) reports that 27% of females and 95% of males (57% total) captured in the Northern Prawn Fishery (NPF) died in the trawl net. This species does not appear to be robust in heavy trawl gear with scallop catch, where it is often crushed, resulting in reasonable mortality (Kyne 2008).

There is particularly high pressure on this species in the Gulf of Carpentaria. In the area of the NPF it is caught in about 15% of trawls and accounts for about 4.5% of the total catch (Stobutzki et al. 2002). However, a more recent evaluation of NPF bycatch found that a low proportion of the species' total abundance in the region occurred in fished areas, and consequently fishing mortality is likely to be much lower than the maximum sustainable mortality (Zhou and Griffiths 2008). The species' western limit remains poorly known and thus it is unclear whether it is affected by fishing pressures within the Arafura Sea. Additional information is also required on catch rates in the Torres Strait Prawn Fishery (TSPF).

In the scallop sector of the Queensland East Coast Trawl Fishery, fishery-independent surveys between Yeppoon and Hervey Bay revealed that the Speckled Maskray was the third most common elasmobranch species by number in the bycatch (15.6% of elasmobranch bycatch) (Kyne 2008). Also, the effect of trawl fishing on the macrobenthos, which is the primary habitat of this species, is another concern.

Fishing effort in the TSPF and the NPF has reduced in intensity relative to historical levels (Flood and Mazur 2014, Larcombe and Skirtun 2014). For example, the TSPF is currently using around 22% of the effort allocation or ~2,000 days of a 9,200 day Total Allowable Effort. In comparison, the TSPF regularly fished 9,500–12,000 days per season between 1990 and 2001.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions:

The Speckled Maskray is protected over some of its east coast range within no-fishing areas of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park. Although turtle exclusion devices (TEDs) are mandatory within all Australian prawn trawl fisheries, this small species is unlikely to be effectively excluded by current devices. The Speckled Maskray would benefit from a careful evaluation of alternative or additional TED options. Generally, evaluation of the species' conservation status would be facilitated by improved monitoring of bycatch, in terms of both the absolute numbers caught and trends in abundance.

Classifications [top]

9. Marine Neritic -> 9.2. Marine Neritic - Subtidal Rock and Rocky Reefs
suitability:Unknown season:resident 
9. Marine Neritic -> 9.3. Marine Neritic - Subtidal Loose Rock/pebble/gravel
suitability:Unknown season:resident 
9. Marine Neritic -> 9.4. Marine Neritic - Subtidal Sandy
suitability:Suitable season:resident major importance:Yes
9. Marine Neritic -> 9.5. Marine Neritic - Subtidal Sandy-Mud
suitability:Suitable season:resident major importance:Yes
9. Marine Neritic -> 9.6. Marine Neritic - Subtidal Muddy
suitability:Suitable season:resident major importance:Yes

In-Place Research, Monitoring and Planning
  Action Recovery plan:No
  Systematic monitoring scheme:No
In-Place Land/Water Protection and Management
  Conservation sites identified:Yes, over part of range
  Occur in at least one PA:Yes
  Area based regional management plan:No
  Invasive species control or prevention:Not Applicable
In-Place Species Management
  Harvest management plan:No
  Successfully reintroduced or introduced beningly:No
In-Place Education
  Subject to recent education and awareness programmes:No
  Included in international legislation:No
  Subject to any international management/trade controls:No
5. Biological resource use -> 5.4. Fishing & harvesting aquatic resources -> 5.4.4. Unintentional effects: (large scale) [harvest]
♦ timing:Ongoing ♦ scope:Majority (50-90%) ♦ severity:Unknown ⇒ Impact score:Unknown 
→ Stresses
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.1. Species mortality

1. Research -> 1.2. Population size, distribution & trends
1. Research -> 1.3. Life history & ecology
3. Monitoring -> 3.1. Population trends

Bibliography [top]

Barratt, P.J. 2003. Comparison of the age and growth, diet and reproduction of the painted maskray Dasyatis leylandi Last, 1987, from the southeast coast of Queensland and the Gulf of Carpentaria, Australia. Honours Thesis, University of Queensland, Brisbane.

Flood, M. and Mazur, K. 2014. Torres Strait Prawn Fishery. In: Georgeson, L., Stobutzki, I. and Curtotti, R. (eds), Fishery status reports 2013–14, Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences, Canberra.

Harris, A.N. and Poiner, I.R. 1991. Changes in species composition of demersal fish fauna of southeast Gulf of Carpentaria, Australia, after 20 years of fishing. Marine Biology 111: 503–519.

Heales, D.S., Brewer, D.T., Kuhnert, P.M. and Jones, P.N. 2007. Detecting declines in catch rates of diverse trawl bycatch species, and implications for monitoring. Fisheries Research 84: 153–161.

IUCN. 2015. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2015-4. Available at: (Accessed: 19 November 2015).

IUCN SSC Shark Specialist Group. Specialist Group website. Available at:

Jacobsen, I.P. 2008. The Biology of Five Benthic Elasmobranch Species Caught as Bycatch in Northern and North-east Australia, Including a Taxonomic Review of Indo-West Pacific Gymnuridae. PhD Thesis, University of Queensland.

Jacobsen, I.P. and Bennett, M.B. 2010. Age and growth of Neotrygon picta, Neotrygon annotata and Neotrygon kuhlii from north-east Australia, with notes on their reproductive biology. Journal of Fish Biology 77: 2405-2422.

Kyne, P.M. 2010. Chondrichthyans and the Queensland East Coast Trawl Fishery: Bycatch reduction, biology, conservation status and sustainability. PhD thesis, University of Queensland, Brisbane, 361 pp.

Kyne, P.M., Johnson, J.W., Courtney, A.J. and Bennett, M.B. 2005. New biogeographical information on Queensland chondrichthyans. Memoirs of the Queensland Museum 50(2):321–327.

Larcombe, J. and Skirtun, M. 2014. Northern Prawn Fishery. In: Georgeson, L., Stobutzki, I. and Curtotti, R (eds), Fishery Status Reports 2013-14, pp. 495. Australian Bureau of Agriculture and Resource Economics and Sciences, Canberra.

Last, P.R. and Stevens, J.D. 2009. Sharks and Rays of Australia. Second Edition. CSIRO Publishing, Collingwood, Australia.

Last, P.R. and White, W.T. 2008. Resurrection of the genus Neotrygon Castelnau (Myliobatoidei: Dasyatidae) with the description of Neotrygon picta sp. nov., a new species from northern Australia. pp 315-325. Descriptions of new Australian Chondrichthyans. Eds. P.R. Last, W.T. White and J.J. Pogonoski, CSIRO Marine and Atmospheric Research Paper No 022, 258 pp.

Pitcher, C.R., Haywood, M., Hooper, J., Coles, R., Bartlett, C., Browne, M., Cannard, T., Carini, G., Carter, A., Cheers, S., Chetwynd, D., Colefax, A., Cook, S., Davie, P., Ellis, N., Fellegara, I., Forcey, I., Furey, M., Gledhill, D., Hendriks, P., Jacobsen, I., Johnson, J., Jones, M., Last, P., Marks, S., McLeod, I., Sheils, J., Sheppard, J., Smith, G., Strickland, C., Van der Geest, C., Venables, W., Wassenberg, T. and Yearsley, G. 2007. Mapping and Characterization of Key Biotic and Physical Attributes of the Torres Strait Ecosystem. CSIRO Publishing, Cleveland.

Stobutzki, I.C., Miller, M.J., Heales, D.S. and Brewer, D.T. 2002. Sustainability of elasmobranches caught as bycatch in a tropical prawn (shrimp) trawl fishery. Fishery Bulletin 100: 800-821.

Zhou, S. and Griffiths, S.P. 2008. Sustainability Assessment for Fishing Effects (SAFE): a new quantitative ecological risk assessment method and its application to elasmobranch bycatch in an Australian trawl fishery. Fisheries Research 91: 56–68.

Citation: Pierce, S.J., White, W.T., Jacobsen, I.P., Barratt, P.J., Last, P.R. & Kyne, P.M. 2015. Neotrygon picta. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2015: e.T195464A68636975. . Downloaded on 22 June 2018.
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