January Elasmobranch of the Month: Eastern Fiddler Ray
Eastern Fiddler Ray
The Eastern Fiddler Ray reaches a length of 1.2 m (4 ft) when fully grown. The pectoral fins are fully rounded, giving it a disc-shaped body. There is slight separation from the adjacent, rounded pelvic fins. From there, the spine becomes slender and supports its two equally sized dorsal fins located near the caudal fin. It does not have any barbs. The nose of this ray is translucent and rounded. The coloration on the dorsal (top) side may be brown to beige to olive green with ridges running down its spine to the second dorsal fin. Distinctive markings are made by cream colored to white lines, edged in black or dark brown. One stripe runs down a large section of the spine, while another crosses it perpendicularly, at about the disc’s midway point. Five to six additional striped marking are located on either side of the body, from near the spine and ending before reaching the body’s outer edge. The end points of these markings are void of the dark edgings. This unique pattern often results in a triangular shape behind the eyes.
Image Credit: John Turnbull ( Flikr)
Habitat and Distribution
The Eastern Fiddler Ray is endemic to eastern Australia. Its range in the Pacific Ocean covers from southern Queensland to Twofold Bay in New South Wales. It is commonly found in coastal waters in a variety of habitats including; rocky reefs, sandy flats and seagrass beds. It lives at depths from 0 - 120 m (0 - 390 ft.)
This ray’s diet includes worms, crustaceans, crabs, other invertebrates.
The Eastern Fiddler Ray uses the ovoviviparous method for reproduction. In this form of reproduction embryos are nourished by a yolk-sac inside eggs that are retained inside the female while they develop. Their gestation period is unknown. At birth they are less than 25 cm (9.8 inches) long.
Image credit: Richard Ling (Flikr)
The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species currently lists the Eastern Fiddler Ray as Least Concern, with an unknown population trend.
Eastern Fiddler Rays are not targeted by commercial or recreational fishing industries. However, they are part of the bycatch, particularly in commercial trawls. Most are released alive, with very few being brought to market. This ray’s known natural predators are orcas and sharks.
Our Breathing Planet
The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species
Huveneers, C. 2015. Trygonorrhina fasciata. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2015: e.T41866A43270478. https://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2015-4.RLTS.T41866A43270478.en. Accessed on 02 January 2022.