The key objective of this project is to increase public knowledge and improve perceptions of myliobatid stingrays across our world’s oceans through research dissemination and outreach.
Targeted myliobatid stingray fisheries and kill tournaments are on the rise in several parts of the world. Unfortunately, there have been few attempts to consolidate scientific knowledge on the biology and ecology of these extremely vulnerable fishes.
Some species of stingrays have evolved the amazing ability to crush and consume hard-shelled marine critters like clams, scallops, oysters and snails. These durophagous (meaning ‘hard-eating’) stingrays can be found in subtropical to temperate waters worldwide, and they include the cownose and eagle rays. Unfortunately, because their diets occasionally include economically valuable shellfish, durophagous stingrays are often considered ‘pest’ species by fishermen. This has led to the development of uncontrolled kill tournaments for these rays and advertising campaigns to increase ray consumption (such as, ‘Save the Bay, Eat a Ray’) despite these species having some of the lowest reproductive rates among marine fishes.
At this year’s American Elasmobranch Society meeting my co-chair, Dr Julie Neer of the South Atlantic Fisheries Management Council, and I will bring together the leading experts on durophagous stingray biology and ecology from across the globe. Our goal is to review current and past research on these animals and use these findings to make recommendations to adequately conserve and manage durophagous stingrays. We will have a series of 20 presentations from the United States, Canada, Mexico and Japan, followed by a discussion session on moving forward with potential conservation measures. In the end, we hope to shift the negative attention associated with these species and increase awareness of the potential positive impacts of these species in marine food webs, and their potential ecotourism value.
The aims and objectives of this project are to:
How do sharks navigate their way around the planet during long migrations? Scientists think they might be using the earth’s electro-magnetic field. By studying how captive stingrays (sharks cousins) respond to magnetic stimuli, Kyle aims to find out if the hypothesis is true.
Andrew wants to know more about the ‘spiky pancakes’ that are porcupine rays, but to do this, he needs to find them first. Armed with underwater cameras, a kayak, and snorkelling and fishing gear he is on a mission to seek out the elusive porcupine ray in the Great Barrier Reef.