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The reproductive health of the endangered Maugean skate: steps towards conservation

By Cynthia Awruch, 14th May 2024

Tasmania’s got some pretty cool marine creatures, and one of the coolest is the Maugean Skate. This little species is like a time traveller, hanging out in the dark waters of only one estuary in the whole world!

Maugean skate. Photo © Cynthia Awruch

The species is facing some tough times, being very close to extinction, and that’s where we come in. Let’s dive into what we are up to with the Maugean Skate in Tassie (as we like to call Tasmania), from grabbing samples to digging into the laboratory work, and getting the community involved.

We have been very busy sampling. The weather has not always been great and we had to postpone the sampling trips many times, but finally we were able to collect samples. We collected body measurements where we did an ultrasound to check if there were egg cases with babies inside the mum, and collected blood and mucus samples.

Boat field work in Macquarie Harbour. Photo © Cynthia Awruch

With our samples in hand, it was time to head to the lab, with results still to come. We are developing a new methodology to measure reproductive hormones and other metabolites that will help us to check for any nasty pollutants that may be harming the reproductive health of the Maugean skate.


Fishing team in action! Photo © Mark Priest

We have also engaged with an amazing artist in Tassie, John Kudelka, who will help us to organise a Maugean skate artist festival that all the community will be able to see!

Releasing a Maugean skate. Photo © Mark priest

See also another festival that was organised in 2023!

Our work with the Maugean Skate is all about teamwork and bringing the community, the scientists, and the government together for a good cause.  It’s a full-on investigation to make sure they’re sticking around.  We’re not done yet, though. Keep an eye out for more updates on our adventures with the Maugean Skate in Tassie’s waters!

Bonus! A baby Maugean skate. Photo © Cynthia Awruch

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