ABU DHABI 27 April 2022: The Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi (EAD) yesterday announced its discovery of a new Eagle Ray species in Abu Dhabi waters, marking a new addition to the global list of batoids.
The new species (Aetomylaeus wafickii) was discovered from specimens collected with other specimens of elasmobranchs and fish in the Arabian Gulf, during the Fisheries Resource Assessment (FRAS) carried out in 2016.
During that time, the eagle ray was identified as the Banded Eagle Ray (Aetomylaeus nichofii), which is very similar in appearance. However, it was then branded new after thorough examination and publishing of a scientific paper highlighting its astute physical description.
The newly described species can be distinguished from similar species, the Blue-banded Eagle Ray (Aetomylaeus caeruleofasciatus) and Banded Eagle Ray, by having a larger number of pale blue bands across its dorsal surface (8-10 bands), a larger number of tooth plate rows, and a shorter tail. This description was published in the Marine Biodiversity Journal on 11th February, 2022.
Ahmed Al Hashmi, Executive Director of Terrestrial and Marine Biodiversity Division at EAD, said, “It is very exciting for us to discover a new species of Eagle Ray in Abu Dhabi. This is a prominent indication that our waters are healthy and that we have an abundance of marine biodiversity.
“Within the past two years, we have discovered a series of species, and I am confident that we can make even more discoveries in the future, as long as we continue to adopt accurate scientific methodologies to ensure credibility.”
“To ensure longevity and sustainability of our species, at EAD, we engage in extensive rehabilitation programmes so that our species can thrive for future generations and enjoy the breadth and beauty of Abu Dhabi’s biodiversity,” he added.