Presumed Extinct, the Tentacled Butterfly Ray Makes First Appearance Since 1986
Good news! The Tentacled Butterfly Ray has been seen once again off southern Iran. Last seen in 1986, the elusive ray was listed as "critically endangered and possibly extinct" by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. The re-emergence has been a fairly substantial one. In 2019 a marine biologist, Mohsen Rezaie-Atagholipour, noticed a dead specimen amongst a catch of Persian Gulf Shrimp. Noticing it must be the Tentacled Butterfly Ray he examined 96 hauls from shrimp trawlers between October 2019 and November 2020. Of the rays that were caught in the nets, a whopping 15% of them were the believed extinct species.
Sadly, the method used to re-discover the rays has also led to a negative impact on their living environment. The area of southern Iran may be the last stronghold and population for the ray and they are often a product of by-catch from shrimp trawlers. One solution could be to employ the use of turtle excluder devices, which seek to reduce by-catch rates of trawling nets. For now the species remains threatened - but still very much alive.
Source: Smithsonian Magazine