Pastinachus ater (Macleay 1883)
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Pastinachus ater (Macleay 1883)

Genus: , ,

Scientific Name: Pastinachus ater

English Name: Broad cowtail ray

Creole Name: Lare lafwet

French Name:

IUCN Red List Status: Vulnerable (VU)

Description:

Large Stingray with a broad rhombic disc (slightly wider than long, disc width 1.2 to 1.3 times its length). Dense band of blunt denticles form wide band on 
central disc in adults.Small heart-shaped or starry based thorns on mid-shoulder.Usually four small thorns on shoulder often barely larger than surrounding denticles. Small 
eyes with wide interorbital space. Mouth small, not greatly protrusible, 5 oral papillae. Nostrils slit like, oblique. Nasal curtain skirt-shaped.Snout short, obtuse, 
with small lobe at tip and without denticles. Anterior margin straight, apices angular and thick trunk. Very broad tail base and flattened anteriorly, becoming more 
cylindrical distally, about twice disk width or less, with a posteriorly located sting, the ventral skin fold is very deep but does not reach the tail apex. Pelvic fins 
large, tips narrowly rounded. 
Colour. Uniform dark greyish brown to black dorsally, often with fine black edge around disc and pelvic fin,  and white ventrally. Tail fold and tail tip black undersurface
white, ventral tail with black areas before sting.

Similar to and often confused with cowtail ray see notes section below.


Size:

Lm unknown. Max disc width 200cm. Max Length > 300cm TL.
Born at approximately 18cm disc width.


Habitat and Ecology:

Demersal on continental and insular shelves (depth 0 - 60m). Mainly marine but ventures into estuaries and freshwater.
Reproduction is viviparous with a litter size of two pups. Little else is known of its biology. 
Until recently this species was not known to occur in Seychelles, it being believed that all specimens seen were actually of the very similar species Pastinachus sephen.
Chantel Elston however (Elston 2018) found with DNA analysis that the Cowtail rays at St Joseph Atoll in the Amirantes were P. ater and not P. sephen


Fishery Status:

This species is not protected or subject to fishery regulations. It is presumed that where it occurs it would be vulnerable to the net and harpoon fishery. 


Notes:

Similar species. Similar to and often confused with cowtail ray which is the more common of the two species where they co-occur in the western Indian Ocean. 
These species differ subtly in morphology, denticle structure and distribution, and at a molecular level.

Until recently this species was not known to occur in Seychelles, it being believed that all specimens seen were actually of the very similar species Pastinachus sephen.
Chantal Elston however (Elston 2018) found with DNA analysis that the Cowtail rays at St Joseph Atoll in the Amirantes were P. ater and not P. sephen. Further work 
is required in the central archipelago to determine whether P. ater occurs there and if so if it does in co-occurrence with P. sephen or exclusively. Specimens examined 
in the central archipelago to date by J. Nevill exhibit the spine count typical of P. sephen.  
Photos provided courtesy of Chantel Elston and Rainer von Brandis respectively.


References:

Elston, C. (2018). The Trophic and Spatial Ecology of a Sympatric Dasyatid Community at a Remote Atoll, Seychelles. A thesis submitted to Rhodes University
in fulillment for the the degree of DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY, Department of Ichthyology and Fisheries Science, Faculty of Science.
Froese, R. and D. Pauly. Eds. (2021). Pastinachus ater https://www.fishbase.se/summary/Pastinachus-ater.html (19/04/21).
Last, P.R. et al (2016). Rays of the World. CSIRO Publishing ISBN 9781501705328
McGrouther, M. (2021). Cowtail Stingray, Pastinachus ater (Macleay, 1883). Australian Museum 
https://australian.museum/learn/animals/fishes/cowtail-stingray-pastinachus-sephen-forsskal-1775/ (19/04/21). 
Pastinachus ater (MACLEAY, 1883): In: Database of modern sharks, rays and chimaeras, www.shark-references.com, World Wide Web electronic publication, 
Version 04/2021 https://shark-references.com/species/view/Pastinachus-ater (19/04/21).
Sherman, C.S. et al (2021). Pastinachus ater. The IUCN Red List 2021: e.T70682232A124550583. https://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2021-1.RLTS.T70682232A124550583.en. (19/04/21)


Citation:

Nevill, J.E.G. & Elston, C. (2021). Pastinachus ater, Broad cowtail ray. Seychelles Seatizens. www.seatizens.sc. http://seatizens.sc/species/pastinachus-ater-macleay-1883/


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