Recreational divers help track rare Porcupine Stingray

  • Sydney
  • India
  • Oct 03, 2014

 

 

Recreational divers in Australia have helped fill in the blanks about a rare stingray species known to inhabit the Indo-Pacific and the coast of West Africa, scientists said. The Porcupine Ray, with its distinctive sharp spikes, is considered one of the most elusive, with only 25 sightings recorded off Australia between 1770 and 2010. But the records have more than doubled in the two years, since researchers at James Cook University in Queensland made a public appeal for divers to help track the species. A new study, based on the collaboration, is published in the latest edition of the journal Pacific Conservation Biology. “We now know that the species lives as far south as Lady Elliott Island in the Great Barrier Reef, swims down to depths of over 30 metres, and is found in habitats such as mangroves and mudflats,” lead researcher Andrew Chin said. The university said divers submitted images and videos that provide insight into the species’ life cycle and behaviour. The Porcupine’s unique appearance makes it easy to spot, Chin said. “It’s covered with short thorns and has a short tail that doesn’t have a spine - nothing else looks like it,” he said. “It’s potentially a very vulnerable species and this is why it’s so important to fill in the information gaps.” Divers have been posting images to ‘The Great Porcupine Ray Hunt’ Facebook page, and dive records are available on the website of the Atlas of Living Australia.


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