Environmental Biology of Fishes

, Volume 97, Issue 4, pp 371–383 | Cite as

Restricted movements of juvenile rays in the lagoon of Ningaloo Reef, Western Australia – evidence for the existence of a nursery

  • F. Cerutti-PereyraEmail author
  • M. Thums
  • C. M. Austin
  • C. J. A. Bradshaw
  • J. D. Stevens
  • R. C. Babcock
  • R. D. Pillans
  • M. G. Meekan


Little information is available on the movements and behaviour of tropical rays despite their potential ecological roles and economic value as a fishery and a tourism resource. A description of the movement patterns and site fidelity of juvenile rays within a coral reef environment is provided in this study. Acoustic telemetry was used to focus on the use of potential nursery areas and describe movement patterns of 16 individuals of four species monitored for 1–21 months within an array of 51 listening stations deployed across a lagoon, reef crest, and reef slope at Mangrove Bay, Ningaloo Reef, Western Australia. Juveniles used a small (< 1 km2), shallow (1–2 m depth) embayment where three receivers recorded 60–80 % of total detections of tagged animals, although individuals of all species moved throughout the array and beyond the lagoon to the open reef slope. Detections at these primary sites were more frequent during winter and when water temperatures were highest during the day. Long-term use of coastal lagoons by juvenile rays suggests that they provide an important habitat for this life stage. Current marine park zoning appears to provide an effective protection for juveniles within this area.


Batoids Key habitats Marine protected areas Indo-Pacific Spatial ecology Habitat use 



This research was approved by the Animal Ethics Committee from Charles Darwin University (no. A07026). We thank to the Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS) and CSIRO for financially supporting this project, and CONACYT-Mexico for international grant. We thank the tagging and receiver-deployment crews, P. Last for species identification, Y. Berger for analytical assistance, D. Lindsay for comments on the manuscript, A. Tan and D. McGaffin for tagging and sampling equipment manufacture, and C. Speed, F. McGregor, S. Baccarella, K. Wenziker, P. Haskell, Exmouth Light Engineering and Ningaloo Dreaming for field assistance.

Supplementary material

10641_2013_158_MOESM1_ESM.doc (446 kb)
Fig. S1 Mangrove Bay array range testing. Proportion of detections received by VR2 receivers at increasing distances from the test transmitter in the lagoon channel (filled circles, 4 m water depth) and at Mangrove Bay (white circles, 1 m water depth) (DOC 446 kb)
10641_2013_158_MOESM2_ESM.doc (190 kb)
Fig. S2 Proportion of days spent by each species inside and outside of the Mangrove Bay sanctuary zone (DOC 190 kb)
10641_2013_158_MOESM3_ESM.doc (726 kb)
Fig. S3 Number of daily detections per ray at Mangrove Bay. Individual plots of detections of juvenile rays primary receives (solid shapes) and other receivers (hollow shapes). (DOC 725 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • F. Cerutti-Pereyra
    • 1
    Email author
  • M. Thums
    • 2
    • 3
  • C. M. Austin
    • 4
  • C. J. A. Bradshaw
    • 5
    • 6
  • J. D. Stevens
    • 7
  • R. C. Babcock
    • 8
  • R. D. Pillans
    • 8
  • M. G. Meekan
    • 2
  1. 1.Research Institute of Environment and LivelihoodsCharles Darwin UniversityCasuarinaAustralia
  2. 2.Australian Institute of Marine Science, c/o UWA Oceans Institute (MO96)CrawleyAustralia
  3. 3.School of Environmental Systems Engineering and UWA Oceans InstituteUniversity of Western Australia M470CrawleyAustralia
  4. 4.School of Science Monash University Sunway CampusPetaling JayaMalaysia
  5. 5.The Environment Institute and School of Earth and Environmental SciencesThe University of AdelaideAdelaideAustralia
  6. 6.South Australian Research and Development InstituteHenley BeachAustralia
  7. 7.CSIRO Marine and Atmospheric ResearchHobartAustralia
  8. 8.CSIRO Marine and Atmospheric Research, Ecosciences PrecinctBrisbaneAustralia

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