The Fins United Initiative is excited to bring back the loved "Underrated Elasmobranch Spotlight" series through TFUI officer Jess Myers. Learn about the Chondrichthyans not shown on the big screen through her beautiful artwork!
The final Underrated Elasmobranch of 2020 has a fairly popular cousin known for its speckled spots, however, the banded eagle ray (Aetomylaeus nichofii) prefers stripes to polka dots when it comes to fashion choices. The name Aetomylaeus comes from the Greek, meaning eagle (aetos) mill or grinder (mylio).
Eagle rays, in general, are given this name due to their oddly shaped, beak-like mouths. Additionally, they have pointed wings, making them “rhomboidal” rather than other stingrays that have a more circular body. Their tails are relatively long and cable-like. The biggest distinction that puts rays into the genus Aetomylaeus is the lack of a stinging spine.
The banded eagle ray is considered small compared to other members of its genus (disk width ~72cm / 28 in). Female rays give birth to only 4 pups at a time. What drew me to choose these creatures this year were their beautiful blue stripes! They range from pale to a pretty strong blue. Animals like tigers and zebras have stripes to help break up their silhouette, blend into their surroundings better, or confuse predators. Do you think the banded eagle ray has stripes for the same reason?
These rays are often caught and used for meat but are not a popular dish due to their small size. Their last conservation status was completed in 2015, putting them at Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List.
WHAT UNDERRATED CHONDRICHTHYAN DO YOU THINK SHARK WEEK SHOULD SHOWCASE?
TFUI Founder Melissa C. Marquez is author of all animal bios and "Behind the Fins" segments.
SEE MELISSA'S TEDx TALK HERE:
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