Endangered rays may have unknown birthing zone in Mexican waters
By Duke University
DURHAM, N.C. — The discovery of dozens of pregnant giant devil rays accidentally caught in fishing nets in a village along Mexico’s northern Gulf of California could mean the endangered species has a previously unknown birthing zone in nearby waters, a new Duke University study suggests.
If further research confirms the possibility, authorities and local fishers should work together to devise a plan that minimizes the risk of negative interactions when pregnant rays migrate there each year in and around April, said study author Leo Chan Gaskins, a doctoral student in marine science and conservation at Duke’s Nicholas School of the Environment.
“These animals reach sexual maturity very slowly and they have only one pup per litter, so losing even a small number of pregnant females to by-catch can have dire effects on a local population’s birth potential and long-term survival,” Gaskins said.