Aetobatus flagellum | UAE National Red List of Marine Species: Reef-building corals, cartilaginous fishes and select bony fishes

Aetobatus flagellum | (Bloch & Schneider, 1801)
Countries in Assessment
United Arab Emirates
Country ISO code(s)
Does the assessment cover a marine EEZ area(s)?
Scope (Assessment)
Taxonomic Group
Taxonomic Group Level 2
Assessed taxon level
Taxonomic Notes
This species was previously considered to be conspecific with Aetobatus narutobiei, but the species have since been shown to differ genetically and morphologically (White and Moore 2013).
Taxon distribution as listed in assessment
The Longhead Eagle Ray occurs throughout UAE waters. Globally, it is patchily distributed in the Indo-West Pacific from the Arabian Sea region to Indonesia and Malaysia (Last et al. 2016).
Habitats and Ecology
Ecological system type
Terrestrial system
Freshwater system
Marine system
Habitat details as listed in assessment
The Longhead Eagle Ray occurs primarily inshore on the inner continental shelf, and is associated with estuarine habitats (Last et al. 2016), especially where it occurs in the Arabian Gulf (Bishop et al. 2016). It attains a maximum size of 90 cm disc width (DW) with males mature at 50 cm DW and females at 75 cm DW (White and Moore 2013). Size at birth is unknown but the smallest free-swimming individual examined was 23 cm DW. Little else is known of the biology of this species. However, it is suspected to exhibit low fecundity as with other myliobatids which bear litters of up to four offspring (Compagno and Last 1999). As there is no information on this species' maximum age and age at maturity, generation length was inferred as ~15 years based on data for the Bat Ray (Myliobatis californicus) which are reported to have a maximum age of 24 years and an age at maturity of five years (Martin and Cailliet 1988). However, it is noted that the Longhead Eagle Ray reaches a smaller maximum size than this species.
Is there a map available in assessment?
Assessed status
Asessment status in full
Assessment status abreviation
Assessment status criteria
Assessment rationale/justification
This inshore eagle ray occurs throughout UAE waters, but little is known on its population there. It may be taken as bycatch in inshore gillnet fisheries. Most of the distribution of the species in the Arabian Sea region is under extremely intense and increasing demersal fishing pressure, especially off India. Furthermore, the loss and modification of coastal habitats in the Arabian Gulf is a significant concern, especially since this species is known to rely on estuaries during part of its life history. Its relative rarity, large size, and low productivity makes this species particularly susceptible to population decline. Though data specifically from the UAE are not available, individuals in the UAE are a component of a larger, interconnected and migratory population that occurs broadly in the north-western Indian Ocean. Given the intense fishing pressures faced by this species throughout the Arabian Seas, and ongoing threats from bycatch and habitat loss, it is inferred that declines reported in the Arabian Seas are representative of the status in the UAE. Based on recorded levels of exploitation, it is suspected to have declined by at least 50% over the past three generation lengths, or about 45 years. It is listed as Endangered A2d.
About the assessment
Assessment year
Assessors/contributors/reviewers listed
UAE National Red List Workshop
Affliation of assessor(s)/contributors/reviewers listed on assessment
Assessor affiliation specific
Criteria system
Criteria system specifics
IUCN v3.1
Criteria system used
Criteria Citation
IUCN. 2012. IUCN Red List Categories and Criteria: Version 3.1, Second edition. IUCN, Gland, Switzerland and Cambridge, UK. iv + 32pp pp. And IUCN. 2012. Guidelines for Application of IUCN Red List Criteria at Regional and National Levels: Version 4.0. Gland, Switzerland and Cambridge, UK: IUCN. iii + 41pp.
Endemic to region
Endemism Notes
Is an endemic?: Not_assigned
Threats listed in assessment
Information pertaining to threats to this species in UAE waters are unavailable. Generally, the Longhead Eagle Ray is highly susceptible to a variety of inshore demersal fisheries, including trawls and gill nets. In the Arabian Sea region, it occurs in areas of intense demersal trawl activity. Marine habitats in the Arabian Gulf are experiencing high levels of disturbance and quickly deteriorating due to major impacts from development activities (including dredging and reclamation), desalination plants, industrial activities, habitat destruction through the removal of shallow productive areas and major shipping lanes (Sheppard et al. 2010), which is likely to impact this species.
Conservation Measures

Conservation measures:
Conservation measures notes:
Required conservation measures:

Scientific Name Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family Genus
Aetobatus flagellum Animalia Chordata Chondrichthyes Myliobatiformes Aetobatidae Aetobatus