The stingray team has been hard at work over the last month and has recently broken an important milestone passing n=300 capture events. We now have 347 captures with 195 individual rays (49 Himantura schmardae and 146 Dasyatis americana) and 152 recaptured rays. Shark Research and Conservation Programme intern Katie Luniewicz holds a juvenile Caribbean whiptail stingray before release

With the high level of capture events occurring this has enabled graduate student Daniel Montgomery to successfully tag 38 southern stingrays with temperature loggers, with 7 loggers having been retrieved from stingrays to date. Initial analysis of data has shown a diel pattern in temperatures experienced by stingrays possibly related to tidal cycles in these shallow water environments, however more tags are required in order to make more detailed analysis of trends in the data. Alongside this work Daniel has also been advising an Island School research class who will prevent initial findings of the study at the Island School Research Symposium at the end of May.

A Southern stingray swims away from the team following capture

Other work conducted by the team includes continued sampling of Caribbean whiptail stingrays in order to analyse genetic connectivity of rays found in different locations throughout the Bahamas. Recently the team explored a mangrove creek at Wemyss Bight after receiving a tip-off that several rays had been seen by fly fishermen the previous week. During a lengthy walk amongst the mangrove creek the team captured and sampled 5 immature whiptail rays added significantly to our current dataset.

 

The ventral view of a whiptail stingray showing the animals gill slits

With the continued field work we anticipate capturing our 200th individual stingray across both projects in the near future!