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ADVOCATE APPAREL INSPIRED BY the spotted eagle ray (Aetobatus narinari)

Photos by Robert Stansfield

Mote Marine Lab Logo10% of profits from your purchase will go directly toward the Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium's Sharks & Rays Conservation Research Program, to study the conservation, ecology and movement patterns of spotted eagle rays in the Gulf of Mexico, Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea. Founded by Eugenie Clark in 1955 , the program has been a leader in advancing the causes of shark and ray conservation worldwide. In 2009, Mote researchers initiated their conservation research project on the life history, reproduction, and population status of the spotted eagle ray (Aetobatus narinari), a protected species in Florida but vulnerable in the rest of its range.

It is illegal to fish for or kill this beautiful and charismatic ray in Florida waters, however they are not protected under federal laws and international protections are limited as well. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), an organization that establishes the conservation status of species worldwide, lists them as near-threatened with a decreasing population trend.

In some countries, spotted eagle rays are harvested as food and are caught as bycatch (unintentional catch in commercial fisheries that target other species). Spotted eagle rays also face a variety of threats from habitat loss, harmful algal blooms and entanglement in fishing gear. These threats, combined with their extremely low reproductive rate, make these rays vulnerable to population declines. To help create better conservation management plans for this species, Mote and other research institutions are defining the distribution, migration, feeding habits, growth rates and reproductive biology of spotted eagle rays.

Photo by Andy Deitsch/ Mote Marine Laboratory

Mote researchers tag spotted eagle rays to collect data on their life history, reproduction, and population status. Photo by Conor Goulding/ Mote Marine Laboratory

Photo by Mote Marine Laboratory

Mote biologists have sampled, tagged and released hundreds of spotted eagle rays off the Southwest Florida coast to gain a better understanding of their biology, population structure and migratory patterns in the Gulf of Mexico.

The Spotted Eagle Ray Project goals are two-fold:

  1. In collaboration with project partners, Mote biologists are collecting data to characterize the population structure, biology and ecology of this ray in the Gulf of Mexico, Caribbean and Western Atlantic.
  2. Mote biologists are engaging with community and citizen scientists to “rays” public awareness, enhance conservation capacity and improve educational outreach about spotted eagle rays and other marine rays around the world.

Photos by Conor Goulding/ Mote Marine Laboratory