Monday, January 13, 2014

[Ichthyology • 2013] Aetobatus narutobiei | Naru Eagle Ray • A New Species of Eagle Ray from the Northwest Pacific: An Example of the Critical Role Taxonomy Plays in Fisheries and Ecological Sciences

Aetobatus narutobiei 
White, Yamaguchi & Furumitsu 2013


Recent taxonomic and molecular work on the eagle rays (Family Myliobatidae) revealed a cryptic species in the northwest Pacific. This species is formally described as Aetobatus narutobiei sp. nov. and compared to its congeners. Aetobatus narutobiei is found in eastern Vietnam, Hong Kong, China, Korea and southern Japan. It was previously considered to be conspecific with Aetobatus flagellum, but these species differ in size, structure of the NADH2 and CO1 genes, some morphological and meristic characters and colouration. Aetobatus narutobiei is particularly abundant in Ariake Bay in southern Japan where it is considered a pest species that predates heavily on farmed bivalve stocks and is culled annually as part of a ‘predator control’ program. The discovery of A. narutobiei highlights the paucity of detailed taxonomic research on this group of rays. This discovery impacts on current conservation assessments of A. flagellum and these need to be revised based on the findings of this study.

Vernacular Names: Naru Eagle Ray  

Etymology: The specific name is in allusion to the common name of this species in Japanese waters ‘Naru tobi-ei’ (pronounced ‘Nar-oo tobee-ay’) where this species is particularly common and the focus of much research. ‘Naru’ is in reference to Naru Island, one of the five major islands in the Goto Islands which are part of Nagasaki Prefecture; where the species was first recorded in Japan. ‘Tobi-ei’ is the Japanese name used for eagle rays which translates to black kite (a bird). The name is treated as a noun in apposition.

Aetobatus narutobiei (FFNU-P-2001; holotype). Adult male (831 mm DW).
 Dorsal view and Ventral view

William T. White, Keisuke Furumitsu and Atsuko Yamaguchi. 2013. A New Species of Eagle Ray Aetobatus narutobiei from the Northwest Pacific: An Example of the Critical Role Taxonomy Plays in Fisheries and Ecological Sciences. PLoS ONE. 8(12): e83785. doi:

White, William T. & Alec B. M. Moore. 2013. Redescription of Aetobatus flagellum (Bloch & Schneider, 1801), An Endangered Eagle Ray (Myliobatoidea: Myliobatidae) from the Indo–West Pacific. Zootaxa. 3752(1): 199–213.

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