SPOTTED EAGLE RAY
Description: Diamond-shaped pectoral disc with a protruding, flattened snout. Deep blue or black pectoral side with white spots, rings and dashes distributed throughout. Ventral side is white with some grey patches. Pectoral wings extend nearly twice as wide as they are long, with angled lateral edges. Snout is shaped like a beak or a shovel. Small dorsal fin located at the base of the tail, slightly in front of stinging spines. Whip-like tail that can be up to three times as long as the width of the pectoral disc.
Distribution and Habitat: Found throughout the Atlantic ocean in tropical to warm temperate waters. On the western side of the Atlantic, whitespotted eagle rays range from North Carolina (USA) to Rio de Janeiro (Brazil). Benthopelagic species found over the continental shelf, often occurs in lagoons, estuaries, coral reefs and open water. Depth ranges from 0 m to 60 m.
Size: Maximum recorded size is 230 cm disc width. Size at birth of 18-36 cm disc width.
Reproduction: Matrotrophic viviparous. Litter size of 1-5 pups with a gestation period of 12 months. Males mature at a disc width of 127-129 cm, while females mature at a disc width of 134.9 cm.
Diet: Worms, bivalve and gastropod mollusks, cephalopods, crustaceans and fish.
IUCN Status: Endangered as July 2020.
Human Pressures: Caught as bycatch in commercial and artisanal fisheries on net-like fishing gear such as gillnets. Throughout their range, some areas have a lack of fisheries restrictions, resulting in higher catch rates due to overexploitation. They are a popular aquarium species so are at risk from aquarium trade. Additional threats include pollution, dredging, and habitat loss.