Hard-eating stingrays

  • Rays & Skates
Years funded
  • 2013
  • Archived
Project type
  • Research
Hard-eating stingrays

Matt Ajemian

Project leader
About the project leader
The furthest back I can remember is being on the New Jersey shore, probably when I was a toddler. I recall the great cooling sensation of the Atlantic in summer, the vastness of the ocean and the power of the undertow as I lay in the swash zone. I am a native of Long Island, New York. Summers there, as well as in New Jersey, were my first introduction to the marine environment. Having taken up fishing early on, I was exposed to an incredible diversity of fishes: striped ones, puffy ones, flat ones made mainly of cartilage, ones with crawly...
Project details

Myliobatid ray conservation through research dissemination and outreach

Key objective

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.

Why is this important

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.

Aims & objectives

The aims and objectives of this project are to:

  • Assemble leading scientists in the field of myliobatid ray biology and ecology.
  • Review the current state of knowledge on myliobatid ray biology and ecology.
  • Make recommendations to resource managers on the sustainable use of myliobatid rays.
  • Disseminate findings to the greater scientific community.