Bluespotted Maskray: Neotrygon caeruleopunctata

Family: Dasyatidae
Common name(s)

Bluespotted Maskray.

Identification

A small stingray with a kite-shaped disc that is wider than long; disc width approximately 1.2-1.3 x length. Snout very short, and bluntly angular. Tip of snout not extended. Anterior margins of disc straight or weakly convex. Pectoral fin apices angular and slightly falcate. Pelvic fins large; apices narrowly rounded.
Eyes large and protruding. Snout length 1.1-1.5 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 undulate and heavily fringed. Nostrils thin.
Denticles on disc absent except for a varying row of small thorns extending from nape to level of cloaca. Tail broad and depressed at base, tapering gently to caudal sting, then thin but firm to tip. No prickly denticles on tail. Tail length (when intact) up to 1.5 x disc width. Ventral finfold long and low. Dorsal finfold very short; length approximately 5.2-6.1 x shorter than ventral fold. 1-2 tail stings usually present.

Colour

Dorsum pale greenish-brown with an indistinct brown band across eyes, and numerous eye-sized blue spots (often with pale centres), and scattered very small black specs. Blue spots sparser on medial strip and denser on pectoral fins. Dusky mask over eyes sometimes extends backwards to nape, forming a dusky triangle. Ventrum white with a greyish submarginal band. Tail beyond caudal mostly black with irregular white bands near tip. Caudal finfolds black.

Size

Maximum disc width 47cm. Disc width at birth approximately 17cm.

Habitat

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

Distribution

Indian Ocean. Widespread from South Africa northward to east Africa, Arabia, India, and western Southeast Asia to Java in Indonesia.

Conservation Status

NOT EVALUATED

The 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.

Citation

Last, P.R., White, W.T. and B. Séret, 2016. Taxonomic status of maskrays of the Neotrygon kuhlii species complex (Myliobatoidei: Dasyatidae) with the description of three new species from the Indo-West Pacific. Zootaxa 4083(4):533-561. (Ref. 116741)

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.