Malacca Strait Bluespotted Maskray: Neotrygon Malaccensis

Family: Dasyatidae
Common name(s)

Malacca Strait Bluespotted Maskray, Bluespotted Maskray.

Identification

As of January 2023, the Malacca Strait Bluespotted Maskray has been separated from other neotrygonids by DNA sequencing alone. The following description is based on personal observation in the field:

A small stingray with a kite-shaped disc. Snout bluntly angular. Tip of snout not extended. Anterior margins of disc straight or weakly convex. Pectoral fin apices angular. Pelvic fins large; apices narrowly rounded. Eyes large and protruding.

Colour

Dorsum pale greenish-brown with a distinct brown band across eyes, and numerous eye-sized blue spots (often with pale centres), and scattered very small dark brown spots. Blue spots absent on medial strip and towards disc margin. Dark mask across eyes does not extend backwards to nape. Ventrum mostly white. Tail beyond caudal sting mostly black with one or more small white bands and a white tip.

Size

Maximum disc width unknown.

Habitat

Tropical seas. On sandy substrates, often adjacent to reefs. From shallow bays to at least 20m (personal observation). Max depth unknown.

Distribution

West coast of Thailand. Northern part of the Malacca Strait and eastern Andaman Sea.

Conservation Status

The Malacca Strait bluespotted maskray is part of a recently (2016) split complex of rays that were previously grouped as Dasyatis kuhlii. This member of the Kuhlii complex has not yet been assessed by the IUCN.

Reproduction

Matrotrophic aplacental viviparity. Litter size unknown.

Diet

Diet unknown.

Behavior

Sedentary. Behavior poorly known.

Reaction to divers

Shy and difficult to approach unless extremely accustomed to divers.

Diving logistics

Bluespotted maskray are widely distributed and commonly seen at hundreds of dive sites along the west coasts of Thailand, Malaysia, and Indonesia.
One of many good spots is at the Similan Islands in southern Thailand where maskrays are relatively abundant at many shallow dive sites.

Similar species

Oriental Bluespotted Maskray A very similar ray. Distinguishable by larger size, shorter ventral finfold, and tail that is often white towards the tip. Plus, more southeasterly (but likely overlapping) range.