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Sunday, Aug 25, 2019

Two scientists find new species of stingray along India’s east coast

The species has now been named Neotrygon indica.

mumbai Updated: Jul 27, 2018 11:10 IST
Badri Chatterjee
Badri Chatterjee
Hindustan Times
A specimen of the new species discovered by Indian scientists.
A specimen of the new species discovered by Indian scientists.

A new species of stingray, now named Indian Ocean blue-spotted maskray, was identified along the Indian coast. Stingrays are flat bodied marine organisms with a venomous tail spine or stinger.

While Australian scientists discovered a new stingray species in the southern part of Indian Ocean in 2015, this is the first time since 1973 that a species from the same family has been discovered by Indian scientists. The new species has been spotted in the Bay of Bengal, along Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu coasts, Lakshadweep Sea and Tanzania coast. The findings were published in an Elsevier Masson research paper.

“The blue-spotted maskray consists of up to 11 lineages representing separate species. Nine of these species have already been described and two (Indian Ocean maskray and Ryukyu maskray) remain undescribed. Here, the Indian Ocean maskray is described as a new species,” reads the paper.

A two-member team of scientists Annam Pavan-Kumar and Rajan Kumar, both from fish genetics and biotechnology division, ICAR-Central Institute of Fisheries Education (CIFE), Mumbai, along with two scientists from Taiwan and New Caledonia, identified the species through DNA barcoding. They were assisted by the Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute (CMFRI).

“This species was initially described as the blue-spotted maskray (Neotrygon kuhlii) but after observing the molecular level variation and holotypes from different countries, we concluded that this was a different species. Since it was present in Indian waters, we named it as Neotrygon indica,” said Annam Pavan-Kumar, senior scientist, CIFE and lead author of the study.

“The holotype size of the species we studied and submitted to the Zoological Survey of India was at sub-adult stage 16.6cm length and 24 cm width. However, their size varies as per their age.”

He added that prior to this discovery such species were generally identified by using morphological characters only and under the same family a different species was identified 45 years ago.

Scientists from CMFRI Mumbai said that there is very little research for diversity studies of Indian marine fauna.

“We don’t know how many species are out there without names along the country’s coastline,” said Akhilesh KV, scientist CMFRI.

First Published: Jul 27, 2018 11:10 IST

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