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): White, W.T. and Naylor, G.J.P. 2016. Resurrection of the family Aetobatidae (Myliobatiformes) for the pelagic eagle rays, genus Aetobatus. Zootaxa 4139(3): 435-438.
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.

Classifications [top]

9. Marine Neritic -> 9.1. Marine Neritic - Pelagic
suitability:Suitable season:resident 
9. Marine Neritic -> 9.4. Marine Neritic - Subtidal Sandy
suitability:Suitable season:resident 
9. Marine Neritic -> 9.9. Marine Neritic - Seagrass (Submerged)
suitability:Suitable season:resident 
9. Marine Neritic -> 9.10. Marine Neritic - Estuaries
suitability:Suitable season:resident 
10. Marine Oceanic -> 10.1. Marine Oceanic - Epipelagic (0-200m)
suitability:Suitable season:resident 
3. Species management -> 3.1. Species management -> 3.1.1. Harvest management
3. Species management -> 3.1. Species management -> 3.1.2. Trade management

In-Place Research, Monitoring and Planning
  Action Recovery plan:No
  Systematic monitoring scheme:No
In-Place Land/Water Protection and Management
  Conservation sites identified:No
  Occur in at least one PA:Unknown
  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
  Subject to ex-situ conservation: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 -> 5.4.3. Unintentional effects: (subsistence/small scale) [harvest]
♦ timing:Ongoing ♦ scope:Majority (50-90%) ♦ severity:Unknown ⇒ Impact score:Unknown 
→ Stresses
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.1. Species mortality

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 -> 1.1. Taxonomy
1. Research -> 1.2. Population size, distribution & trends
1. Research -> 1.3. Life history & ecology
1. Research -> 1.5. Threats
1. Research -> 1.6. Actions
3. Monitoring -> 3.1. Population trends

Bibliography [top]

Benjamin, D., Rozario, J.V., Jose, D., Kurup, B.M. and Harikrishnan, M. 2012. Morphometric characteristics of the ornate eagle ray Aetomylaeus vespertilio (Bleeker, 1852) caught off Cochin, southwest coast of India. International Journal of Environmental Sciences 3: 685-688.

Bonfil, R. and Abdallah, M. 2004. Field identification guide to the sharks and rays of the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden. FAO Species Identification Guide for Fishery Purposes. FAO, Rome.

Compagno, L.J.V. and Last, P.R. 1999. Myliobatidae. Eagle rays. In: K.E. Carpenter and V.H. Niem (eds) FAO Species Identification Guide for Fishery Purposes. The Living Marine Resources of the Western Central Pacific. Volume 3. Batoid Fishes, Chimaeras and Bony Fishes Part 1 (Elopidae to Linophrynidae). pp. 1511-1519. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Rome.

Compagno, L.J.V., Last, P.R., Stevens, J.D. and Alava, M.N.R. 2005. Checklist of Philippine Chondrichthyes. CSIRO Marine Laboratories Report 243.

Hanfee, F. 1999. Management of shark fisheries in two Indian coastal states: Tamil Nadu and Kerala. In: R. Shotton (ed.) Case studies of the management of elasmobranch fisheries. FAO technical paper 378/1, FAO Rome.

IUCN. 2016. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2016-1. Available at: (Accessed: 30 June 2016).

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

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

Martin, L.K. and Cailliet, G.M. 1988b. Age and growth determination of the bat ray, Myliobatis californica Gill, in central California. Copeia 1988(3):762–773.

White, W.T., Last, P.R., Stevens, J.D., Yearsley, G.K., Fahmi and Dharmadi. 2006. Economically Important Sharks and Rays of Indonesia. Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research, Canberra, Australia.

Citation: White, W.T. & Kyne, P.M. 2016. Aetomylaeus vespertilio. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016: e.T60121A68607665. . Downloaded on 21 June 2018.
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