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Lifespan, longevity, and ageing

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Maximum longevity: 24 years (wild)
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Bat ray fossils have been discovered in Pliocene deposits dating back 1 million years.

The origin of the name "bat ray" was given by Gill in 1865 because of their pectoral fins which resemble bat wings.

Bat rays have been successfully bred at Sea World.

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Schmidt, K. 2000. "Myliobatis californica" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Myliobatis_californica.html
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Katie Schmidt, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
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Tanya Dewey, Animal Diversity Web
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Conservation Status

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Bat rays were once persecuted in parts of coastal California because they were thought to prey on cultivated oysters. Bat rays were routinely killed in their nursery grounds, devastating local populations.

US Federal List: no special status

CITES: no special status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: least concern

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Schmidt, K. 2000. "Myliobatis californica" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Myliobatis_californica.html
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Katie Schmidt, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
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Tanya Dewey, Animal Diversity Web
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Benefits

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There are no known negative impacts of bat rays on humans. They were once thought to eat large numbers of cultivated oysters in coastal California. However, research demonstrated that bat rays only rarely prey on oysters.

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Schmidt, K. 2000. "Myliobatis californica" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Myliobatis_californica.html
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Katie Schmidt, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
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Tanya Dewey, Animal Diversity Web
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Benefits

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Because bat rays are large predators that use their snouts to dig up food, they wind up creating extremely large pits up to 4m long and 20 cm deep. These large pits allow access to small organisms that may be the food of smaller fish. Small fish rely on this relationship with bat rays because a lot of them are unable to dig their own food out of the sand.

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Schmidt, K. 2000. "Myliobatis californica" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Myliobatis_californica.html
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Katie Schmidt, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
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Tanya Dewey, Animal Diversity Web
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Trophic Strategy

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Bat rays are carnivorous and feed on a variety of molluscs, crustaceans, and small fishes. Diet varies with the abundance of prey locally. Juveniles eat primarily clams and shrimp. Adult bat rays eat larger prey, including larger clams, crabs, shrimp, and echiuran worms.

Bat rays use their snout to dig invertebrates from the sand, making bat rays an important benthic predator. They also capture prey by lifting the body on the pectoral fin tip, flapping the pectoral tips quickly up and down, and then using the suction created by the flapping to pull sand out from under the body, exposing hidden prey. When bat rays feed on molluscs, they eat the entire animal, crush the shell inside of the mouth, spit out the hard shell pieces, and then eat the soft part of the mollusc body. Bat rays, depending on size, may burrow with their nose deeper into the sand or mud bottoms in an effort to eat larger prey.

Animal Foods: mollusks; aquatic or marine worms; aquatic crustaceans

Primary Diet: carnivore (Eats non-insect arthropods, Molluscivore )

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Schmidt, K. 2000. "Myliobatis californica" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Myliobatis_californica.html
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Katie Schmidt, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
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Tanya Dewey, Animal Diversity Web
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Distribution

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Bat rays are found in shallow waters and coral reefs from Oregon to the Sea of Cortez.

Biogeographic Regions: pacific ocean (Native )

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Schmidt, K. 2000. "Myliobatis californica" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Myliobatis_californica.html
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Katie Schmidt, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
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Tanya Dewey, Animal Diversity Web
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Habitat

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Bat rays are found living close to the shores of bays, sloughs, kelp beds and coral reefs. Bat rays prefer to live in areas with sandy or muddy bottoms for it allows easier access to food. They are most commonly found in depths reaching between 3m and 12m but have occasionally been spotted as deep as 46m.

Aquatic Biomes: reef ; coastal

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Schmidt, K. 2000. "Myliobatis californica" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Myliobatis_californica.html
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Katie Schmidt, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
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Tanya Dewey, Animal Diversity Web
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Life Expectancy

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Bat rays have been known to live up to 23 years.

Range lifespan
Status: wild:
23 (high) years.

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Schmidt, K. 2000. "Myliobatis californica" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Myliobatis_californica.html
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Katie Schmidt, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
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Tanya Dewey, Animal Diversity Web
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Morphology

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Bat rays are commonly distinguished from other rays because of their distinct, protruding head and large eyes ( a close look). They have a flat body with a dorsal fin at the base of the tail. The tail is whiplike and can be as long or longer than the width of the body. It is armed with a barbed stinger that is venomous. Bat rays are named for their two long pectoral fins that are shaped like the wings of a bat. The skin is smooth, dark brown or black and has no markings. Bat rays have a white underbelly. The skeleton is made of cartilage, instead of bone. Bat rays are usually born measuring 11.4 inches and can grow to reach 5.9 feet. Females are typically larger than males and have been found weighing up to 200 pounds. ( Details.)

Range mass: 0 to 0 kg.

Other Physical Features: bilateral symmetry

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Schmidt, K. 2000. "Myliobatis californica" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Myliobatis_californica.html
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Katie Schmidt, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
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Tanya Dewey, Animal Diversity Web
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Associations

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Predators of the bat ray are California sea lions and broadnose sevengill sharks.

Known Predators:

  • California sea lions (Zalophus californianus)
  • broadnose sevengill sharks (Notorynchus cepedianus)

Anti-predator Adaptations: cryptic

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Schmidt, K. 2000. "Myliobatis californica" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Myliobatis_californica.html
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Katie Schmidt, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
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Tanya Dewey, Animal Diversity Web
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Reproduction

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Bat rays reproduce on an annual cycle, usually copulating during the spring or summer of one year and then giving birth the following spring or summer. The male chooses his mate by following close behind her and assessing her reproductive condition by smelling her chemical signals. When the male has found a suitable mate, he continues to swim close behind and moves under so that his back is touching her stomach. He rotates a clasper up and to the side of the female. After inserting it into her cloaca, they swim together with synchronous beats of the pectoral fins. Many times, males will fight over a particular female. The female may end up having more than one male clinging onto her pectoral fins at one time and will wait for one of the males to finally flip her into the correct position. Bat rays reproduce in large mating aggregations with the females clustering in one area. Females may lie on top of one another, burying females that have already mated or those that are not sexually mature yet. This allows less confusion for the males to pick a suitable mate.

The gestation period is between 8-12 months and the number of live young born depends upon the size of the mother but can be up to 10 pups at a time. The female enters a bay area to deliver in an effort to protect from larger predators in the ocean and to allow access to a more stable food source. The young pups do not require any parental care and are born with stingers ready to protect from predators. Before bat rays are actually born, the stinger is pliable and has a sheath that is sloughed. It protects the mother from the dangerous stinger during delivery but is immediately lost at the time of delivery. Bat rays reach sexual maturity around the age of 5 years, usually when they measure from wing tip to wing tip 67-68 cm.

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Schmidt, K. 2000. "Myliobatis californica" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Myliobatis_californica.html
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Katie Schmidt, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
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Tanya Dewey, Animal Diversity Web
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Life Cycle

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Exhibit ovoviparity (aplacental viviparity), with embryos feeding initially on yolk, then receiving additional nourishment from the mother by indirect absorption of uterine fluid enriched with mucus, fat or protein through specialised structures (Ref. 50449).
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Trophic Strategy

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Also in Ref. 9137.

Reference

Talent, L.G. Food habits of the gray smoothhound, Mustelus californicus, the brown smoothhound, Mustelus henlei, the shovelnose guitarfish, Rhinobatos productus, and the bat ray, Myliobatis californica, in Elkhorn Slough, California. Calif. Fish Game ():-.

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Biology

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Commonly found in sandy and muddy bays and sloughs, also on rocky bottom and in kelp beds (Ref. 2850). Sometimes buries itself in sand (Ref. 2850). Found singly or in schools (Ref. 12951). Feeds on bivalves, snails, polychaetes, shrimps, and crabs (Ref. 9257). Ovoviviparous (Ref. 50449). Venomous spine on tail. Not fished commercially, but shows up as by-catch species (Ref. 9257).
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Importance

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aquarium: public aquariums
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Bat ray

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The bat ray (Myliobatis californica)[2][3][4] is an eagle ray found in muddy or sandy sloughs, estuaries and bays, kelp beds and rocky-bottomed shoreline in the eastern Pacific Ocean, between the Oregon coast and the Gulf of California. It is also found in the area around the Galápagos Islands.[5] The largest specimens can grow to a wingspan of 1.8 m (5 ft 11 in) and a mass of 91 kg (201 lb).[6] They more typically range from 9.07–13.61 kg (20.0–30.0 lb). The size of the bat ray is dependent on many factors, such as habitat alterations, different oceanographic and environmental conditions. Bat rays have one to three venomous barbed spines at the base of its tail.[7]

The sexual maturity size of the female Myliobatis california is often greater than the male one.[8] Bat rays are euryhaline, i.e. they are able to live in environments with a wide range of salinities. Predators of the bat ray include California sea lion, great white sharks and broadnose sevengill sharks.

Diet

Bat rays feed on mollusks, crustaceans and small fish on the seabed, using their winglike pectoral fins to move sand and expose prey animals. They may also dig trenches up to 20 cm deep to expose buried prey, such as clams. Bat ray teeth are flat and pavementlike, forming tightly-packed rows that are used for crushing and grinding prey—the crushed shells are ejected and the flesh consumed. As with all elasmobranchs, these teeth fall out and are replaced continuously.[5][6]

Relationship with humans

While the bat ray, like other stingrays, has a venomous spine in its tail (near the base), it is not considered dangerous and uses the spine only when attacked or frightened.

Currently, the bat ray is fished commercially in Mexico but not the United States. Prehistorically, native tribes on the California coast (probably Ohlone), especially in the San Francisco Bay area, fished bat rays in large numbers, presumably for food.[9]

Commercial growers have long believed bat rays (which inhabit the same estuarine areas favored for the industry) prey on oysters and trapped them in large numbers. In fact, crabs (which are prey of bat rays) are principally responsible for oyster loss. Bat rays are not considered endangered or threatened.[6]

Bat rays are popular in marine parks, and visitors are often allowed to touch or stroke the ray, usually on the wing.

Life cycle

Bat ray reproduction is ovoviviparous. They mate annually, in the spring or summer, and have a gestation period of nine to twelve months. Litter sizes range from two to ten — pups emerge with their pectoral fins wrapped around the body, and the venomous spine is flexible and covered in a sheath which sloughs off within hours of birth. Bat rays live up to 23 years.[6][10]

Bat rays copulate while swimming with synchronized wingbeats—the male under the female. The male inserts a clasper into the female's cloaca, channeling semen into the orifice to fertilize her eggs.[10]

Gallery

References

  1. ^ van Hees, K.; Pien, C.; Ebert, D.A.; Cailliet, G.M.; Smith, W.D. (2015). "Myliobatis californicus". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. 2015: e.T39416A80677869. doi:10.2305/IUCN.UK.2015-4.RLTS.T39416A80677869.en. Retrieved 20 November 2021.
  2. ^ Gill, T.N. (1865). "Note on the family of myliobatoids, and on a new species of Aetobatis". Ann. Lyc. Nat. Hist. N. Y. 8, 135–138.
  3. ^ "Myliobatis californica". Integrated Taxonomic Information System. Retrieved 11 March 2006.
  4. ^ Froese, Rainer; Pauly, Daniel (eds.) (2006). "Myliobatis californica" in FishBase. January 2006 version.
  5. ^ a b Florida Museum of Natural History. Bat Ray Biological Profile. Retrieved 2006-01-16.
  6. ^ a b c d Monterey Bay Aquarium Online Field Guide. Bat Ray. Retrieved 2012-06-14.
  7. ^ "Bat Ray". montereybayaquarium.org. Monterey Bay Aquarium. September 2006. Retrieved 2 November 2016.
  8. ^ Hernandez-Herrera, A., Galvan-Magana, F., Patricia Ceballos-Vazquez, B., Pelamatti, T., García-Rodríguez, A., Hernández-Herrera, A., Galván-Magaña, F., Ceballos-Vázquez, B., & Tovar-Ávila, J. (2020). Estimation of the size at sexual maturity of the bat ray (Myliobatis californica) in northwestern Mexico through a multi-model inference. Fisheries Research, 231
  9. ^ Gobalet, Kenneth W., Peter D. Schulz, Thomas A. Wake and Nelson Siefkin (2004). "Archaeological perspectives on native American fisheries of California, with emphasis on steelhead and salmon". Transactions of the American Fisheries Society 133 (4), 801–833.
  10. ^ a b MarineBio.org. Bat Ray. Retrieved 2006-01-16

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Bat ray: Brief Summary

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The bat ray (Myliobatis californica) is an eagle ray found in muddy or sandy sloughs, estuaries and bays, kelp beds and rocky-bottomed shoreline in the eastern Pacific Ocean, between the Oregon coast and the Gulf of California. It is also found in the area around the Galápagos Islands. The largest specimens can grow to a wingspan of 1.8 m (5 ft 11 in) and a mass of 91 kg (201 lb). They more typically range from 9.07–13.61 kg (20.0–30.0 lb). The size of the bat ray is dependent on many factors, such as habitat alterations, different oceanographic and environmental conditions. Bat rays have one to three venomous barbed spines at the base of its tail.

The sexual maturity size of the female Myliobatis california is often greater than the male one. Bat rays are euryhaline, i.e. they are able to live in environments with a wide range of salinities. Predators of the bat ray include California sea lion, great white sharks and broadnose sevengill sharks.

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