Eastern Shovelnose Stingaree.
A large stingaree with a rounded kite-shaped disc that is slightly wider than long. Snout broadly rounded or obtusely angular, without an extended tip. Anterior margins of disc mildly convex, apices broadly rounded. Disc completely smooth.
Eyes medium-sized; orbit length 0.2-0.23 x snout length. Spiracle origin below anterior half of eye. Mouth small. Six oral papillae on mouth floor. Nasal curtain skirt shaped, not extended into a distinct lobe, posterior margin heavily fringed. Broad, fleshy lateral-posterior lobe present on each nostril.
Tail 0.81-0.89 x disc length, oval in cross-section, depressed anteriorly. Dorsal fin absent. Caudal fin relatively large and deep.
Dorsum brown, dark brown, or occasionally yellowish, often with small dark or pale flecks. Dorsum may be darker centrally. Caudal lobe dusky. Ventrum white with a broad grey/brown margin.
Total length at least 80cm. Length at birth approximately 20cm.
Temperate seas. Found on sandy and muddy substrates, often adjacent to rocky reefs and/or kelp. Usually observed in extremely shallow bays at less than 5m, but recorded to at least 120m.
Endemic to Southeast Australia. Occurs from Beachport, South Australia to Bermagui, New South Wales. Common in Victoria.
The Eastern Shovelnose Stingaree is taken as incidental bycatch in commercial shelf fisheries (Danish seine, trawl), particularly in the Southern and Eastern Scalefish and Shark Fishery (SESSF) off southeast Australia (Walker and Gason 2007). Effort in that fishery is limited within Bass Strait which would provide the species with some refuge from major fishing gear in that area (Patterson et al. 2017). This species is of no commercial value and is discarded when caught (Walker and Gason 2007).
Where the species is taken as bycatch, a concern is the demonstrated low post-release survivorship of trawl caught stingarees (Campbell et al. 2018), and the fact that urolophids frequently abort pups upon capture and handling; even if gravid females survived capture, their reproductive output can be lost (White et al. 2001, Trinnie et al. 2009, Adams et al. 2018).
The species may also be subject to localized habitat loss and degradation due to increased levels of recreational water use and development in shallow embayments around southern Australia.
Kyne, P.M., Finucci, B., Marshall, L.J., Last, P.R. & Trinnie, F. 2019. Trygonoptera imitata. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2019: e.T60081A68648058. https://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2019-1.RLTS.T60081A68648058.en. Downloaded on 20 March 2021.
Viviparous, probably with trophodermic nutrition. Litter size up to 7 pups. Parturition occurs in February and March.
Diet consists mainly of polychaete worms.
Reaction to divers
Somewhat easily approached with non-threatening movements.
The eastern shovelnose stingaree is one of the most common species encountered in shallow water at dive sites in Victoria. It is especially abundant near Melbourne within Port Philip Bay. Due to its preference for extremely shallow water, it can also be encountered while snorkelling close to shore.
Divers also run into this species in southern NSW (albeit with much lower frequency) e.g. at Merimbula and Jervis Bay.