Coral Sea Maskray, New Caledonian Maskray, Bluespotted Maskray/Stingray.
Neotrygon kuhlii, Dasyatis kuhlii.
A small stingray with a kite-shaped disc that is wider than long; disc width 1.3 x length. Snout short, and bluntly angular. Tip of snout not extended. Anterior margins of disc straight or weakly undulate. Pectoral fin apices angular and slightly falcate. Pelvic fins large, apices angular, posterior margins slightly convex.
Eyes large and protruding. Snout length ~1.4 x combined eye and spiracle length. Mouth small, containing 2 large central oral papillae. Prominent labial furrows and folds around mouth. Nasal curtain narrow and skirt-shaped; posterior margin concave and heavily fringed. Nostrils thin.
Denticles on disc usually absent. Tail broad and depressed at base, tapering gently to caudal sting, then thin but firm to tip. No prickly denticles on tail. Ventral finfold long and low. Dorsal finfold short and low. Usually 1 tail sting.
Dorsum yellowish to reddish brown with a distinct brown band across eyes, and numerous usually smaller than eye-sized pale blueish spots (sometimes with very pale centres), and scattered very small black speckles. Speckle pattern denser on nape. Blueish spots mostly distributed centrally to mid disc; absent towards disc margin. Dark mask across eyes does not extend backwards to nape. Ventrum mostly white.
Tail dusky brown anteriorly, darker posteriorly with one or two wide white bands near tip. Skinfolds dark brown.
Maximum disc width at least 35cm.
The Coral Sea Maskray (Neotrygon trigonoides) is caught in trawl fisheries in Queensland. Although discarded, post-release survival is low. It is listed as a species of high concern in the East Coast Trawl Fishery because all life stages are captured. Fortunately, in 75% of the Coral Sea Maskrays’ range in Queensland, there is very little fishing pressure. In New Caledonia, there are no significant fisheries impacting this species.
Tropical to warm-temperate seas. On sandy substrates and rocky reefs. From shallow bays to at least 50m.
Southwest Pacific Ocean. East coast of northern Queensland southward to Sydney, NSW. Also found around New Caledonia.
Matrotrophic aplacental viviparity. Litter size unknown.
Rests on or under the substrate during the day. In Byron Bay, Coral Sae Maskrays become very bold (completely ignoring divers) in January. Bold behavior presumably related to mating.
Reaction to divers
Usually shy and difficult to approach.
The Coral Sea Maskray is common at many dive sites throughout Queensland and northern NSW.
I found this species to be very approachable in January at Julian Rocks in Byron Bay, NSW.