(J. P. Müller & Henle, 1841)
The blue-spotted maskray (Neotrygon kuhlii) or Kuhl's stingray, is a species of stingray of the Dasyatidae family. It was recently changed from Dasyatis kuhlii in 2008 after morphological and molecular analyses show that it is part of a distinct genus, Neotrygon. The body is rhomboidal and colored green with blue spots. Maximum disk width is estimated 46.5 centimeters (18.3 in). It is popular in aquaria but usually not distinguished from the bluespotted ribbontail ray. The ribbontail has a rounded body, is a brighter green with brighter blue and more vivid spots, but the blue-spotted maskray is larger. The stingray's lifespan is estimated thirteen years of age for females and ten years for males. The bluespotted stingray preys on many fish and small mollusks, but is also preyed on by the orca and hammer head shark. The blue-spotted maskray is also generally found from Indonesia to Japan, and most of Australia. The blue-spotted maskray is also targeted by many parasites such as tapeworms, flatworms, and flukes.
The blue-spotted maskray was discovered by Heinrich Kuhl in Java, Indonesia. The population of this species is greatly debatable due to the five different species of rays in Indonesia. Also, there are two different subgroups: the Java and Bali form. The distinct difference between the two strains is their size, with the Bali being much larger than the Java. On the familial level, the family Dasyatidae is made up of 9 genera and 70 species. The genus of Neotrygon are called maskrays, because of the color pattern around their eyes.
Description and behavior
The blue-spotted maskray has a flat disc-like rhomboid body averaging 42 centimeters (17 in) in diameter and 70 centimeters (28 in) in length; and their coloring is a dark green with blue spots with a light white underbelly also known as countershading. The blue-spotted maskray's snout is very short and broadly angular along with its angular disc. The rays' bright coloration serves as a warning for its venomous spines. The ray has a very long tail accommodating two venomous spines on the base of the tail. The tail is about twice as long as the body of the ray, and the barbs or spines are two different sizes, one being very large and the other a medium-sized barb. The blue-spotted maskray has bright yellow eyes that are positioned to allow them a wide angle of view. Since the gills are located ventrally the spiracles allow water to reach the gills while resting or feeding on the benthos. The spiracles are located directly behind the eyes. The mouth is located on the ventral of the body, which promotes the unique foraging technique of stingrays. Rays are normally solitary individuals but can occur in groups. One unique characteristic of the blue-spotted maskray is that they rarely bury themselves in the sand, only to hide from predators, unlike the majority of rays who bury themselves regularly.
This type of ray feeds on shrimp, small bony fish, mollusks, crabs and other worms. Due to the fact that this ray is a shallow bottom feeder, it has a small variety of marine life to prey on. The blue-spotted maskray overpowers its prey by pinning them to the bottom of the seafloor with its fins. This ray does not have teeth, instead it has food-crushing plates on the sides of its mouth.
The blue-spotted maskray is ovoviviparous. The embryos are retained in eggs within the mother's body until they are ready to hatch. The embryos receive nourishment from the mothers' uterine fluid. Mothers give birth to up to seven pups per litter; these pups range from 6 inches (150 mm) to 13 inches (330 mm) long at birth. The blue-spotted maskray passes its offspring 32 sets of chromosomes. The mother also has an annual reproductive cycle. Studies show that the mating season is in October and November and the ovulating season is in the Australian summer (December 1- February 28/29), which coincides with the embryonic development.
The blue-spotted maskray is commonly found in waters of depths about 0–90 meters (0–295 feet), being commonly found in sand and mudflats, but have also been encountered near rocky coral reefs, and seagrass beds. This stingray is found in a tropical climate at 29°N- 31°S, and 20°E- 171°W. At high tide the blue-spotted maskray moves into the shallow lagoons and reef flats. It is found in northern Australia, Kenya, Madagascar, The island of Mauritius, Somalia, the east coast of South Africa, India. The blue-spotted maskray is in almost the entire continental waters of Asia, including the Sea of Japan, Yellow Sea, East China Sea, Philippine Sea, Sulu Sea, Java Sea, Banda Sea, Celebes Sea, Andaman Sea, the Bay of Bengal and the Arabian Sea.
Threats and protected areas
In Queensland, Australia there are many areas for high protection of the blue-spotted maskray, three being the Shoalwater, Corio Bay's Area Ramsar Site, and the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park. A major threat of the blue-spotted maskray is the destruction of coral reefs mainly in the north Western Pacific. The rays dwell in these reefs and the destruction and pollution from fertilizers and pesticides hurt them. The ray is commonly caught in the Java Sea by fishermen trawling and by Danish seine boats in large quantities. The blue-spotted maskray is the second most significant species out of the sharks, rays, and skate family to be fished, contributing to about 700 kilograms (1,500 lb) per boat in 2006-2007.
Larger elasmobranchs, such as the hammerhead shark, frequently prey on the blue-spotted maskray. The rays coloration is a warning for the highly poisonous barbs, thus few animals attempt to overpower this ray. The hammerhead shark uses its head to pin down the blue-spotted maskray, while it is in shock and much weaker.
Due to the unique characteristics of this ray it is very common to be found in pet trade, many people ignore the fact that in total maturity the size of the ray exceeds the capacity of many household aquariums. The blue-spotted maskray is generally fished for its meat, being either smoked and salted or dried for local markets, but inexpensive due to its small size. It is caught in mass in bottom trawl, trammel, and fish traps. The blue-spotted maskray is very venomous and it has a barb approximately 12 inches (300 mm) long. The venom contains serotonin, 5' nucleotidase, and phosphodiesterase.
The skin of the blue-spotted maskray is often used for drums such as on the Arab and Turkish darbuka goblet drum and riq (def) tambourine.
There are many parasites that inhibit the blue-spotted maskray, this is a table of the common groups of the parasite, and the specific name of the parasite.
|Tapeworms||Cestodes cephalobothriidae||Cephalobothrium longisegmentum and Tylocephalum kuhli|
|Tapeworms||Cestodes mixodigmatidae||Trygonicola macroporus|
|Tapeworms||Cestodes onchobothriidae||Acanthobothrium bengalens, Acanthobothrium confusum, Acanthobothrium herdmani, and Acanthobothrium pingtanensis|
|Tapeworms||Cestodes phyllobothriidae||Echeneibothrium trygonis, Phyllobothrium ptychocephalum, Rhinebothrium shipleyi, Scalithrium shipleyi, and Scalithrium trygonis|
|Flatworms||Monogeneans monocotylidae||Dendromonocotyle kuhlii, Heterocotyle chinensis, Monocotyle kuhlii, and Monocotyle tritestis|
|Flukes||Trematodes monocotylidae||Prosorhynchus clavatum|
|Flukes||Trematodes didymozoidae||Didymozoid larva|
|Blue spotted stingray swimming YouTube|
|Hand feeding a blue spotted stingrayYouTube|
|How Whales Eat Sharks National Geographic|
- Last, P. R.; White, W. T. (2008). "Resurrection of the genus Neotrygon Castelnau (Myliobatoidei: Dasyatidae) with the descriptions of Neotrygon picta sp. nov., a new species from northern Australia" (PDF). CSIRO Marine & Atmospheric Research.
- Pierce, S. J.; Pardo, S. A.; Bennett, M. B. (2009). "Reproduction of the Blue-spotted maskray Neotrygon kuhlii (Myliobatoidei: Dasyatidae) in south-east Queensland, Australia". Journal of Fish Biology 74: 1291–1308. doi:10.1111/j.1095-8649.2009.02202.x.
- (Randall 2005, p. 18)
- Pierce, S. J.; Bennett, M. B. (2009). "Validated annual band-pair periodicity and growth parameters of blue-spotted maskray Neotrygon kuhlii from south-east Queensland, Australia". Journal of Fish Biology 75: 2490–2508. doi:10.1111/j.1095-8649.2009.02435.x.
- Jacobsen, I. P.; Bennett, M. B. (2010). "Age and growth of Dasyatis picta, Dasyatis annotata and Dasyatis kuhlii from north-east Australia, with notes on their reproductive biology". Journal of Fish Biology 77 (10): 2405–22. doi:10.1111/j.1095-8649.2010.02829.x. PMID 21155791.
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- Pierce, S. J.; Pardo, S. A.; Bennett, M. B. (2009). "Reproduction of the blue-spotted maskray Dasyatis kuhlii (Myliobatoidei: Dasyatidae) in south-east Queensland, Australia". Journal of Fish Biology 74 (6): 1291–308. doi:10.1111/j.1095-8649.2009.02202.x. PMID 20735632.
- "Dasyatis kuhlii (Müller & Henle, 1841)". World Register of Marine Species. 2009.
- "Dasyatis kuhlii (Bluespotted Stingray)". IUNC Red List. December 20, 2011.
- Pablico, Grace Tolentino (June 23, 2006). "Predator Summary — Dasyatis Kuhlii". FishBase. Retrieved December 27, 2011.
- "Hammerhead Shark". Aquatic Community. 2006. Retrieved December 31, 2011.
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- "Host-parasite Database". Natural History Museum. November 13, 2011.
- Randall, John E. (2005). Reef and Shore Fishes of the South Pacific: New Caledonia to Tahiti and the Pitcairn Islands. University of Hawaii Press. ISBN 978-0-8248-2698-7.
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