Studying Bermuda's Own Spotted Eagle Rays
A BZS-supported graduate research project undertaken in 2006, 2007 and again this summer by Matt Ajemian, a student at the U.
The spotted eagle ray (Aetobatus narinari), locally known at the “Whip Moray”, is fairly abundant over seagrass beds and sand flats of
Matt (right) and "Flookie" (right) prepare an Eagle Ray for tagging with a tracking device
In conjunction with Dr. Thad Murdoch (BZS) and Chris Flook and his team (BAMZ), PhD student Matt Ajemian (DISL,
Specific objectives include:
- Determining populations size across
- Assessing their diets, foraging behaviour and motion across
Bermudausing ultrasonic tracking transmitters and datalogging hydrophones.
- Measuring the ecological role and impact of eagle rays on shellfish stocks
Since May of 2007, the research team has captured, photographed and measured 13 spotted eagle rays, all of which were released harmlessly back into their native environment. Key findings include:
- Acquisition of basic biological information on these animals (size, sex, maturity state, food habits)
- Tracked the movements of eagle rays throughout Harrington Sound and Flatts for 2 months, to show possible aggregation areas and residency within HS
Spotted eagle rays are probably slow-growing, late-maturing species that produce few pups per litter. These reproductive parameters make spotted eagle rays vulnerable to exploitation. Our continued work on this charismatic and potentially ecologically important species will provide critical data for conservation purposes while bringing information on living resources to