Well spotted! Rare ornate Eagle ray sighting released
Scientists from the Philippine-based marine conservation organization LAMAVE have recently released video footage of their 2017 encounter with the rarely seen and endangered Ornate Eagle Ray (Aetomylaeus vespertilio).
The sighting of the large female occurred during an April 2017 WWF-Philippines expedition to Cagayancillo, a remote archipelago in the north-eastern Sulu Sea, and was filmed by researchers from LAMAVE (Large Marine Vertebrate Research Institute Philippines). The Ornate Eagle Ray is recognizable by its unique dorsal pattern of dark stripes and spots (see video), and the sighting has been documented in the scientific journal Check List.
Accompanying the expedition was Dr. Andy Cornish, Leader of WWF’s Shark & Ray Initiative, who noted the sighting of the rarely seen ray in his 24 May 2017 blog. “In my 20 years of diving in Asia Pacific I had not seen an Ornate Eagle Ray until this moment,” said Dr. Cornish. “It was wonderful to see such a large individual swimming so gracefully along the reef crest. I have no doubt that the Cagayancillo region has great potential for many more memorable encounters with sharks and rays.”
A LAMAVE press release accompanying the footage called the encounter with the endangered species “the first ever live encounter with the species in Philippine waters.” The only two known previous records were found dead in fish markets.
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