This week has been very exciting for those of us who love stingrays.
What, you don’t know what I’m talking about?
I’ll set the scene a little:
Whenever we head to Yorke Peninsula, I’m constantly scouring the water and beaches for signs and remnants of life.
On the beaches we find cuttle bones, skeletons (both the internal – eg fish – and the outside – eg sea urchins – kind), weeds, shells, eggs, fins, feathers and all manner of other once-living material.
In the ocean we often spot jellyfish, bait fish, salmon, squid, cuttlefish, dolphins, seals and lots and lots of rays. Eagle rays, fiddler rays and big black scary rays, mostly. They terrify and enthral me all at once.
For about 10 years now I’ve had my eyes peeled for the elusive Magpie Fiddler Ray (Trygonorrhina melaleuca), described for the first time in 1954 and not reported since. Because of its rarity, the SA Museum had put the call out about a decade ago for members of the public to report sightings, or indeed produce a living example to help them with classification of the species.
Then yesterday up one popped, in the Port River in outer suburban Adelaide! Back from the dead, right on our doorstep!
Caught alive by members of the Adelaide Game Fishing Club, the ray was immediately passed on to the South Australian Research and Development Group to be described and bothered slightly for collection of tissue samples. The exciting possibility that Maggie – as she is affectionately being referred to – is pregnant is also being explored.
Don’t worry: Maggie will be released after a few weeks.
[image thanks to Acutance on flickr]