A wandering wedgefish illustrates the need for cooperative elasmobranch conservation in the Arabian Gulf

Stephan Bruns, Shamsa Al Hameli, Erik Sulanke, Aaron C. Henderson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The smoothnose wedgefish Rhynchobatus laevis, a shark-like ray classified as Critically Endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, has received limited research attention. To address the knowledge gaps in its spatial behaviour, this study utilised satellite monitoring of a fortuitously captured female over a 51-day period in the Arabian Gulf. Based on the resulting movement track, the individual covered a minimum distance of 712 km, traversing the exclusive economic zones of three different countries. Its track began in the United Arab Emirates, from where it headed north, entering Iranian waters, where it spent most of its time, before continuing westward across the Gulf and eventually reaching Qatari waters. Novel insights into its behaviour revealed an observation of rapid ascents over the study period. Although both diurnal and nocturnal ascents were observed, they occurred predominantly during nocturnal periods. Contrary to the prevailing belief that wedgefish are bottom-associated, the study animal spent a considerable amount of time in the water column. The use of various depths in both nearshore and offshore waters highlights elevated susceptibility to multiple types of fishing gear. This underscores the need for an international cooperative approach to the management and conservation of shark-like rays in the Arabian Gulf.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)307-318
Number of pages12
JournalEnvironmental Biology of Fishes
Volume107
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2024

Keywords

  • Chondrichthyes
  • Critically endangered
  • Fisheries
  • Management
  • Middle East
  • Spatial ecology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Aquatic Science

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