Pelagic whiptail stingray inhabits in tropical seas like Indian, Atlantic and pacific Oceans but the study finds it in the country’s seawaters and parts of Northern Arabian Sea. The study suggests the “important” specie had never been witnessed off the country’s coast till the WWF-Pakistan carried out a collection of the specie on April 9 this year which latter it confirmed as Pelagic whiptail stingray. The samples of fish collection followed also in May and June to verify the specie.
Director WWF-Pakistan, Rab Nawaz called the discovery a “major” breakthrough, saying the rare fish specie is an addition to the list of marine fauna from offshore waters of the country. During a study about marine life, its scientists collected species stingray in the country’s offshore waters came to know about the fish lives on upper layers of the oceans, said WWF-Pakistan.
The study suggests the fish, unlike its relatives, feeds on jellyfishes, squid, shrimps, crabs and fish in the open ocean. More than 15 species of stingrays’ family have been found in Pakistan’s coastal waters along the bottom of the sea. They feed on animals live in sand or mud, it adds.
The specie is trapped into gillnets by tuna fishing boats as by-catch off Sindh and Balochistan coasts. WWF-Pakistan considers its discovery in the country’s waters “very important”. WWF-Pakistan believes the specie is of a rare occurrence in most oceans and faces a threat from tuna gillnets and long-lining. Technical Advisor at WWF-Pakistan, Muhammad Moazzam Khan said, “pelagic gillnet in the Northern Arabian Sea including Pakistan, Iran, Oman, Somalia and Yemen is the main fishing gear for catching tuna and billfishes”.
He warns the incidences of by-catch are “very high” into the threatening nets, fearing and pelagic stingray is one such species ensnarled threateningly. “There is a need to regularise gillnets fishing in the area by adopting better fishing gears such as long-lines,” he suggests and called the discovery of pelagic stingray as an “important” addition to the biodiversity of Pakistan.