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Reticulate Whipray Pictures
Shark Pictures Database
Reticulate whipray, honeycomb stingray, marbled whipray.
The reticulate whipray is a large whiptail stingray with a bold pattern of
small dark spots on a
tan or white background. Clusters of spots sometimes form a leopard-like
disc with rounded pectoral tips and an obtusely pointed snout. Anterior disc margins almost straight.
Posterior disc margins rounded. Pelvic fins small. Dorsum pale. When intact,
tail very long - 3-3.5 times body length.
Maximum disc width 2m/6.6ft. Total recorded length 6m/20ft
A bottom dwelling species found in sandy bays,
tidal flats, brackish lagoons and sea grass flats. From sub-tidal zone to 50m.
and distribution: Wide ranging in
Indo Pacific. In the west from the Arabian Peninsula
to South Africa. Found all around the Indian subcontinent and In the
east from Southern Japan to PNG and Northern Australia. Most common
in Australia from Shark Bay to Brisbane.
Recently recorded in the Mediterranean probably after
migrating through the Suez Canal.
Nocturnal. By day the honeycomb stingray rests (either alone or in
small groups) in shallow bays partially
covered by sand.
Its lateral line extends to the tip of its very long
tail granting it extremely acute movement perception. Cownose
stingrays often rest next to reticulate whiprays because of their
excellent ability to sense the approach of predators.
Diet: The reticulate whipray feeds on a wide
variety of organisms including small bony fishes, crabs, shrimps,
bivalves, gastropods, worms and jellyfish.
Embryos are initially fed by yolk sacs. Once the yolk is absorbed
the developing young suckle from villi; structures on the wall of
the uterus that deliver uterine milk.
Conservation status: Listed as VULNERABLE by
the IUCN. Reticulate whiprays are taken as a utilised bycatch of tangle/gillnet,
trawlnet, and dropline fisheries throughout southeast Asia and parts
of the Indian Ocean. This species is an anti-Lessepsian migrant,
having entered the Mediterranean Sea from the Red Sea through the
Suez Canal. Reticulate Whipray faces many of the same threats as
other Himantura species within its range, however, its large size at
maturity and maximum size, low fecundity and preference for shallow
waters (which are being heavily utilised and degraded in many parts
of its range), suggest that it may be more vulnerable than some of
its congeners. Inshore fishing pressure is intense throughout this
species' range in southeast Asia and in parts of the Indian Ocean.
It is caught in particularly high numbers in the target fishery for
rhynchobatids operating in the Arafura Sea. Although no
species-specific data are available, overall catches of stingrays
are reported to be declining, with fishermen having to travel
further and further to sustain catch levels. Aggregated time series
data for rays also shows a steady decline from 1973-1994 in the Gulf
of Thailand. Although species-specific data are not available, given
the species' suspected vulnerability, significant declines
significant declines are suspected to have occurred as a result of
high levels of exploitation across large areas of its range.
Conversely, this species has refuge from fishing pressure in areas
such as northern Australia, where fishing pressure is light and
bycatch mitigation measures are in place. The species is assessed as
Least Concern, regionally, in Australia. Globally, it is assessed as
Vulnerable on the basis of overall suspected declines as a result of
high levels of exploitation in large areas of its range.
Similar species: The reticulate
whipray shares some of it's range with the
leopard whipray Himantura undulata. The latter has a bold
pattern of jaguar-like spots. Two other species Himantura fava
(disc with widely spaced honeycomb pattern and variably banded tail)
and the recently described Himantura leopoldi (also share
parts of the reticulate stingray's range.
Photographs: Arabian Peninsula.
Reaction to divers: Difficult to approach
due to its excellent sensory system and nervous disposition.
logistics: Reticulate whiprays can be seen on reefs across the
indo-pacific. Countries where this ray is commonly encountered by
divers include Egypt, Oman, Mozambique, South Africa, India,
Thailand, Japan, Indonesia and Australia. However, it is most common
in Australia. Dive shops in Shark Bay WA should be able to put you
in the water with this species.
I have encountered small aggregations of this species while snorkeling in
shallow bays in Exmouth, Western Australia.
Manjaji, B.M. &
White, W.T. 2009. Himantura uarnak. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species
2009: e.T161692A5481403. http://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2009-2.RLTS.T161692A5481403.en