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New species of stingray discovered off Western Australia

24/02/2010 16:35:41 whales/marine_2009/ningaloo_ray Ningaloo Coast discovery

February 2010. A new species of stingray has been discovered by scientists at Ningaloo Marine Park in Western Australia. The discovery was made during a series of dive surveys conducted as part of a Western Australian Marine Science Institution (WAMSI) project led by the Department of Environment and Conservation (DEC) working with scientists from CSIRO.

CSIRO scientist Will White said the discovery of the ray (Neotrygon sp.) highlighted that there was still much to learn about the sharks and rays that inhabited the Ningaloo coast.

Dr White said "While this species appears to occur further south in Shark Bay and possibly also off the Northern Territory, the very specific habitat occupied by this ray means that careful monitoring and management is required. These magnificent creatures are part of the maskray family and the five that we sighted during the lagoon surveys had an average wingspan between 20cm and 40cm, so they were a lot smaller than manta rays."

40 species of shark and ray documented
DEC marine scientist Kelly Waples said the dive surveys had documented 40 species of sharks and rays, although it was estimated that as many as 118 species of sharks and rays lived in the marine park.

"Initial results from these surveys indicate that the marine park's shark and ray populations are healthy and benefiting from zoning designed to protect representative populations. Satellite tags have also been used to track large predatory tiger and hammerhead sharks to find out whether they are residents or visitors to the marine park."

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