In 2017, the International Union for Conservation of Nature noted the tentacled butterfly ray as critically threatened, and potentially extinct. The animal Rezaie-Atagholipour found was dead.
” All of the scientists weve spoken with who operate in India, Pakistan, and the area, have never seen it, and theyve been working there for rather a long period of time,” says Rima Jabado, a marine researcher and creator of the United Arab Emirates– based Elasmo Project, who worked with Rezaie-Atagholipour and others to record the discovery in a new paper. “Were excited it is still in Iran.”
But from that initial, surprising discovery, the tentacled butterfly rays simply kept turning up. In between October 2019 and November 2020, Rezaie-Atagholipour surveyed 96 hauls from shrimp trawlers running in the Gulf of Oman and the eastern Persian Gulf and found a total of 367 tentacled butterfly rays in 39 catches. The species comprised almost 15 percent of all the rays in the by-catch.
The tentacled butterfly ray had not been documented given that 1986, but in 2019 Mohsen Rezaie-Atagholipour began finding them hidden as by-catch in Iranian shrimpers catch.
This short article is from Hakai Magazine, an online publication about science and society in seaside communities. Learn more stories like this at hakaimagazine.com.
On a sultry fall afternoon in 2019, as anglers carried in a net of Persian Gulf shrimp, Mohsen Rezaie-Atagholipour waited waiting to sort through the scraps. A marine biologist at Irans Qeshm Environmental Conservation Institute, Rezaie-Atagholipour was hunting for the sharks and rays that the fishermen accidentally snagged in their webs. But as he weighed and determined numerous familiar creatures– gathering information for Irans first shark and ray preservation program– something unanticipated captured his eye: a little olive green ray with two small tentacles just below its eyes. The biologist looked at the creature in disbelief: “I found the tentacled butterfly ray.”
Shrimp trawlers capture a considerable variety of rays as by-catch. Mohsen Rezaie-Atagholipours work revealed that of this ray by-catch, roughly 15 percent were tentacled butterfly rays, though none of the rays in this image, which showcases that by-catch, are the threatened types.
” That was very unexpected,” Rezaie-Atagholipour states. The scientists suspect that the area off southern Iran might be the tentacled butterfly rays last stronghold.
For Hamid Reza Esmaeili, a fish biologist at Irans Shiraz University who wasnt included in the research, this “lost and found” discovery supplies an opportunity for scientists to study the ecology and habits of this improperly understood species.
Yet the really fishing activities that helped scientists discover the endangered ray likewise threaten its existence. In a different study, Jabado and her associates discovered that overfishing disproportionately affects types of rays, sharks, and chimeras found in tropical and subtropical coastal waters, consisting of in the northern Indian Ocean. “We have extreme fishing pressure from the variety of countries operating here,” she says. “Theres kind of no place to hide.”
Iranian trawlers arent targeting rays, they typically select them up as by-catch. Due to prolonged haul hours, the rays usually die before the webs are even taken out of the water. Many shrimpers sell their by-catch at a low price to fish-meal producers.
Rezaie-Atagholipour strategies to deal with fishing neighborhoods to decrease by-catch rates. One method might be to use turtle excluder devices. Made from metal and mesh, and positioned at the neck of a trawl web, these tools have actually been revealed to lower ray by-catch by 18 to 59 percent.
Abdulnoor Malahi, an angler working on a shrimp trawler in Iran, welcomes using such gadgets, provided they do not limit his shrimp catch. However he believes the real service is to prohibit trawling. Without that, numerous marine animals stand to be eliminated, he says. And the tentacled butterfly ray may go extinct for real.This short article is from Hakai Magazine, an online publication about science and society in seaside communities. Check out more stories like this at hakaimagazine.com.
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In between October 2019 and November 2020, Rezaie-Atagholipour surveyed 96 hauls from shrimp trawlers operating in the Gulf of Oman and the eastern Persian Gulf and found an overall of 367 tentacled butterfly rays in 39 catches. The species made up almost 15 percent of all the rays in the by-catch.
A marine biologist at Irans Qeshm Environmental Conservation Institute, Rezaie-Atagholipour was hunting for the sharks and rays that the anglers inadvertently snagged in their internet. As he weighed and determined numerous familiar creatures– collecting information for Irans first shark and ray preservation program– something unanticipated captured his eye: a small olive green ray with 2 tiny tentacles just listed below its eyes. The biologist looked at the creature in shock: “I found the tentacled butterfly ray.”