Photo Observation(s) of the Month of December - Little Rays of Sunshine

We thought we'd do something a little different for the Photo Observation(s) of the Month of December, and include four amazing observations of a particular group of fish. And so congratulations to Erik Schlogl and Nic Katherine for their observations of two Common Stingarees (Trygonoptera testacea) (observation one and observation two) and two Coffin Rays (Hypnos monopterygius) (observation one and observation two) at Parsley Bay.
The reason that these observations are both timely and important is that in December 2023, a research project commenced on characterising the Stingaree and Stingray population at Parsley Bay and Camp Cove in Southern Sydney Harbour led by Nic Katherine. Rays in the order Myliobatiformes (which includes cownose rays, devil rays, eagle rays, manta rays, stingarees, and true stingrays, among others) and Torpediniformes (which includes coffin rays, numbfishes, and torpedo rays) started diversifying in the late cretaceous (~100 million years ago), with the former having 63 species and the latter 7 species known from Australia.
In New Zealand for example, these amazing creatures are believed to be spiritual guardians (or Kaitiaki) protecting the shellfish beds within their harbours and estuaries. In Māori culture, a Stingray barb, deeply thrust in, which cannot be withdrawn, is a metaphor to describe an idea that has taken hold in the mind or a grudge between people that was difficult to overcome. Nicole is excited to learn more about the amazing lives of rays right here in Southern Sydney Harbour.
Nicole's first observation at Parsley Bay as part of her standardised, "timed swim" visual survey approach was a 2 metre Smooth Stingray (Bathytoshia brevicaudata), gliding around and underneath the wharf, eating the bait from the sea floor discarded by fishers on the jetty. The Smooth Stingray is the largest species in the world within the Dasyatidae family of true stingrays. On her first survey at Parsley Bay, Nicole observed one Smooth Stingray, ten Estuary Stingrays (Hemitrygon fluviorum), two Kapala Stingarees (Urolophus kapalensis), one Coffin Ray (Hypnos monopterygius), and three Common Stingarees (Trygonoptera testacea). Not bad for her first time out to survey rays in Parsley Bay!
This self-directed project is supported by Dr Joseph DiBattista, now at Griffith University in the Gold Coast, and complementary data collected by fellow citizen scientists as part of this Marine Biodiversity in Southern Sydney Harbour iNaturalist page. The project aim is to learn more about the diversity and residency of rays in Southern Sydney Harbour. Nicole has been enjoying the experience of immersing herself in the rays world, with some of the juveniles dancing and chasing one another in the shallow waters, whereas others were more cryptic, tucked beneath overhangs or covering themselves with sand. The surveys will continue over the next 4 months.
This journal post was written by project leader and iNaturalist member, Dr Joseph DiBattista, as well as iNaturalist member, Nic Katherine.
Posted on January 11, 2024 01:56 AM by joseph_dibattista joseph_dibattista


Very cool! How do you upload photos to your journal posts? Especially from observations. I'm trying to do an observation of the week journal post and don't know how to add photos.

Posted by bmaher222 4 months ago

Hi @bmaher222 ,

This was all a bit tricky as I starting using a base code for my journal posts, but you would need to create an "asset" or URL that hosts a jpeg of your photo so that it can feature as a thumbnail. Hope this helps!


Posted by joseph_dibattista 4 months ago

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