Rare Stingray Spotted On Great Barrier Reef

A rare stingray, listed as vulnerable on the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species, has been photographed on the Great Barrier Reef.

The Porcupine Ray (Urogymnus asperrimus) was spotted by guests aboard Wavelength Reef Charters at Opal Reef, latitude 16°13 longitude 145°53.5 earlier this year.

So named for the assortment of large conical thorns and smaller, pointed projections found on its upperside, the Porcupine Ray does not have the poisonous barb common to so many other stingray species. Rather, it protects itself from predators with its armoured body.

Porcupine Ray populations are widespread across the world, found in waters off Australia, Egypt, India, Seychelles, Singapore and more, but it is considered uncommon compared to other ray species.

Preferring shallow coastal waters, it was particularly unusual to see the ray on the Great Barrier Reef, as photographed by Chris Witty from Wavelength Reef Charters.

The Porcupine Ray was added to the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species in 2005, after assessment showed decreased populations in several key areas, including Bangkok and the Bay of Bengal.

Its reduced numbers are believed to be a result of fishing, with the Porcupine Ray taken as bycatch in some unregulated fisheries.

The Great Barrier Reef is the world’s largest coral reef ecosystem and is a critical global resource, providing protected habitat for many rare and threatened plant and animal species.

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