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MEPS
Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 660:141-151 (2021)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/meps13589

Evidence and description of a nursery habitat for the recently reclassified stingray Styracura schmardae from The Bahamas

O. R. O’Shea1,2,*, T. E. Van Leeuwen3, D. A. O’Brien1, L. Arrowsmith4, R. McCalman4, M. Griffiths4, D. A. Exton4

1The Centre for Ocean Research and Education, Gregory Town, Eleuthera, Bahamas
2Cape Eleuthera Institute, Rock Sound, Eleuthera, Bahamas
3Department of Fisheries and Oceans, St. Johns, Newfoundland A1C 5X1, Canada
4Operation Wallacea, Wallace House, Old Bolingbroke, Spilsby PE23 4EX, UK
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: While definitions of elasmobranch nurseries remain fluid within the literature, the identification and description of nursery habitats for batoids remain relatively scarce. The Atlantic chupare stingray Styracura schmardae, a large-bodied demersal ray that was recently described from The Bahamas, is considered Data Deficient by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature. Using a combination of mark-recapture and benthic habitat surveying, we describe long-term site fidelity of S. schmardae for the first time, and provide evidence and characteristics of a nursery environment for this species in South Eleuthera, The Bahamas. Overall, 190 capture events were recorded from 86 tagged individuals from April 2014 to August 2017 (1222 d), with 51% of individuals recaptured at least once, 36% at least twice and 2% 6 times. Most (95%) of the captured rays were considered immature (mean disc width 553.5 mm) and had a mean ± SD residence time of 243 ± 177 d. Residence time did not differ among sites, sex or size (disc width) of individual rays at time of capture. Of 4 creeks sampled, Deep Creek had the highest prevalence of captures and recaptures, and correspondingly the highest values for soft sediment cover and sediment depth among sites, suggesting these habitat characteristics in particular may be important in supporting populations of juvenile S. schmardae. Results of this study will better inform effective management and conservation efforts for S. schmardae, including concentrating localised conservation efforts on these ecosystems.


KEY WORDS: Atlantic chupare · Mark-recapture · Refugia · Batoid · Mangrove creek · Juvenile


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Cite this article as: O’Shea OR, Van Leeuwen TE, O’Brien DA, Arrowsmith L, McCalman R, Griffiths M, Exton DA (2021) Evidence and description of a nursery habitat for the recently reclassified stingray Styracura schmardae from The Bahamas. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 660:141-151. https://doi.org/10.3354/meps13589

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