Kapala Stingaree: Urolophus kapalensis

Family: Urolophidae
Common name(s)

Kapala Stingaree.

Identification

A medium-sized stingaree with a rounded kite-shaped disc that is slightly wider than long. Snout pointed; obtusely angular. Anterior margins of disc straight, apices broadly rounded. Disc completely smooth.
Eyes smalle; orbit length 0.22-0.29 x snout length. Spiracle origin anterior to mid-eye. Mouth small. 5-7 oral papillae on mouth floor. Nasal curtain bell-shaped, extended posteriorly into a short lobe, posterior margin weakly fringed. No fleshy lobe on each nostril.
Tail broad based and relatively long, length appoximately 0.85 x disc length, oval in cross section, depressed at base. Dorsal fin absent. Caudal fin long and deep, with a narrowly rounded tip.

Colour

Dorsum greenish brown to light brown with pinkish hues near disc margin. Bold dark patch extends laterally from below each eye. Duskier markings form a triangle between eyes that thins and extends posteriorly along centre line. Younger animals often have an additional dusky band posterior to anterior margin and a dusky blotch on each pectoral fin. Ventrum white with dusky outer margins.

Size

Total length 52cm. Length at birth 15cm.

Habitat

Tropical / temperate seas. Usually found on soft substrates, often adjacent to rocky reefs from 10-130m.

Distribution

Southwest Pacific Ocean. The kapala stingaree occurs in eastern Australia from Cape Moreton, Queensland to Disaster Bay, New South Wales.

Conservation Status

NEAR THREATENED

A considerable proportion of the species’ relatively restricted distribution overlaps with trawl fishing. The Kapala Stingaree is infrequently caught as bycatch in the Commonwealth Trawl Sector of the Southern and Eastern Scalefish and Shark Fishery (SESSF) (Walker and Gason 2007). This species is of no commercial value and is discarded when caught (Walker and Gason 2007).
It is a frequent bycatch in the Queensland East Coast Trawl Fishery (ECTF; Eastern King Prawn Sector), where it is often caught in small aggregations. It is also taken in the New South Wales Ocean Prawn Trawl Fishery.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).

Citation

Kyne, P.M. & Bennett, M.B. 2019. Urolophus kapalensisThe IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2019: e.T42730A68649607. https://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2019-1.RLTS.T42730A68649607.en. Downloaded on 26 March 2021.

Reproduction

Viviparous, probably with trophodermic nutrition. Litter size unknown.

Diet

Probably small benthic invertebrates.

Behavior

Poorly known.

Reaction to divers

Skittish. Generally moves away before being approached closely but sometimes tolerant if approached carefully.

Diving logistics

Although the kapala stingaree is present in southern Queensland, it is more commonly encountered by divers in southern NSW (e.g. Jervis Bay and Merimbula) where it is usually found in sandy areas adjacent to reefs.

Similar species

Banded Stingaree Distinguished by similar but more elaborate pattern including a cross-shape on posterior back, and more westerly range.

Sparsely-spotted Stingaree Distinguished by duskier markings around eyes and scattered, light, irregular spots (not always present).