Skip to main content

Distribution and Abundance of Coastal Elasmobranchs in Tenerife (Canary Islands, NE Atlantic Ocean) with Emphasis on the Bull Ray, Aetomylaeus bovinus

A Correction to this article was published on 11 October 2021

This article has been updated


The current status of the elasmobranchs’ populations and distribution in the Canary Islands is uncertain. Here we investigate the abundance and distribution patterns of coastal elasmobranchs of Tenerife, with a special attention on the Aetomylaeus bovinus population using a photo-identification methodology. A total of 35 visual surveys were conducted in 5 coastal areas, in which pictures were taken every time an elasmobranch individual was sighted to conduct further biometry analyses. For A. bovinus sightings, pictures were used to identify each individual. Relative abundances and sex-ratios of the elasmobranchs recorded were calculated. The Western Coastline of the island was more diverse, showing 8 species out of the 9-total observed. The photo-identification technique allowed a preliminary estimation of the population size of A. bovinus in El Palmar area with 10 individuals identified and 10 re-sightings over a period of 12 months. This study provides the first relevant information regarding broad distribution, abundance and diversity of coastal elasmobranchs around Tenerife. The study also provides information regarding site fidelity of 3 mature individuals of Aetomylaeus bovinus in the South West area.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3
Fig. 4

Availability of Data and Material

On request.

Change history


  • Brito A, Pascual P, Falcón J, Sancho A, y González G (2002) Peces de las Islas Canarias (catálogo completo e ilustrado). San Cristóbal de La Laguna. Francisco Lemus (editor).

  • Boyra A, Sanchez-Jerez P, Tuya F et al (2004) Attraction of Wild Coastal Fishes to an Atlantic Subtropical Cage Fish Farms, Gran Canaria. Canary Islands Environmental Biology of Fishes 70:393–401.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Capapé J, Zaouali JAT, Bouchereau JL (1992) Reproductive biology of the spiny butterfly ray, Gymnura altavela (Linnaeus, 1758) (Pisces: Gymnuridae) from off the Tunisian coasts. Sci Mar 56(4):347–355

    Google Scholar 

  • Cardinale M, Nugroho D, Hernroth L (2009) Reconstructing historical trends of small pelagic fish in the Java Sea using standardized commercial trip based catch per unit of effort. Fish Res 99(3):151–158.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Clemente S, Hernández JC, Toledo K, Brito A (2007) Predation upon Diadema aff. Zantillarum in barren grounds in the Canary Islands. Sci Mar 71(4):745–754.

  • Deakos MH (2010) Paired-laser photogrammetry as a simple and accurate system for measuring the body size of free-ranging manta rays Manta alfredi. Aquat Biol 10:1–10.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Dudgeon CL, Noad MJ, Lanyon JM (2008) Abundance and demography of a seasonal aggregation of zebra sharks Stegostoma fasciatum. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 368:269–281.

  • Dulčić J, Lipej L, Orlando BM, Jenko R, Grbec B et al (2008) The bull ray, Pteromylaeus bovinus (Myliobatidae) in the northern Adriatic Sea. Cybium 32(2):119–123

    Google Scholar 

  • Dulvy N, Fowler S, Musick J, Cavanagh R, Kyne P et al (2014) Extinction risk and conservation of the world’s sharks and rays. eLIFE

  • Escánez A, Torres C, Rodríguez RS, Oñate M, Marrero PJ (2016) Estudio del primer área de cría del Angelote (Squatina squatina) descubierta em Canarias. Chronica Naturae 6:50–62

    Google Scholar 

  • Graham RT, Roberts CM (2007) Assessing the size, growth rate and structure of a seasonal population of whale sharks (Rhincodon typus Smith 1828) using conventional tagging and photo identification. Fish Res 84(1):71–80.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Heupel M, Carlson JK, Simpfendorfer CA (2007) Shark nursery areas: Concepts, definition, characterization and assumptions. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 337:287–297.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Jabado RW, Chartrain E, Cliff G, Derrick D, Dia M, Diop M, Doherty P, Dossa J, Leurs GHL, Metcalfe K, Porriños G, Seidu I, Soares A, Tamo A, VanderWright W, Williams AB (2021) Aetomylaeus bovinus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2021:e.T60127A124441812.

  • Kock A, O’Riain MJ, Mauff K, Mey ̈er M, Kotze D et al (2013) Residency, Habitat Use and Sexual Segregation of White Sharks, Carcharodon carcharias in False Bay, South Africa. Plos ONE 8(1):e55048.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Loiseau N, Kiszka JJ, Bouveroux T, Heitahus MR, Soria M et al (2016) Using an unbaited stationary video system to investigate the behaviour and interactions of bull sharks Carcharhinus leucas under an aquaculture farm. Afr J Mar Sci 1–7

  • Marshall D, Dudgeon CL, Bennett MB (2011) Size and structure of a photographically identified population of manta rays Manta alfredi in southern Mozambique. Mar Biol 158:1111–1124.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Mendoza J, Dorta C, Brito A, Hernández JC (2018) Elasmobranch bycatch on astinaca trammel net fishery in the Canary Islands. Revista Scientia Insularum 1:87–102

    Google Scholar 

  • Meyers EK, Tuya F, Barker J, Jiménez Alvarado D, Castro‐Hernández JJ et al (2017) Population structure, distribution and astina use of the Critically endangered Angelshark. Squatina Squatina, in the Canary Islands.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Papastamatiou YP, Itano DG, Dale JJ, Meyer CG, Holland KN (2010) Site fidelity and movements of sharks associated with ocean-farming cages in Hawaii. Mar Freshw Res 2010(61):1366–1375

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Pauly D, Zeller D (2016) Catch reconstructions reveal that global marine fisheries catches are higher than reported and declining. Nat Commun 7:10244.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Riera R, Becerro MA, Stuart-Smith RD, Delgado JD, Edgar GJ (2014) Out of sight, out of mind: Threats to the marine biodiversity of the Canary Islands (NE Atlantic Ocean). Mar Pollut Bull 86(1–2):9–18.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Rohner CA, Richardson AJ, Marshall AD, Weeks SJ, Pierce SJ (2011) How large is the world's largest fish? Measuring whale sharks Rhincodon typus with laser photogrammetry. J Fish Biol 78(1):378-385

  • Schlaff AM, Heupel MR, Simpfendorfer CA (2014) Influence of environmental factors on shark and ray movement, behaviour and habitat use: a review. Rev Fish Biol Fisheries 24(4):1089–1103

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Sobral AF, Afonso P (2014) Occurrence of mobulids in the Azores, central North Atlantic. J Mar Biol Assoc UK 94(08):1671–1675.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Solleliet S et al (2018) Photo-Identification of Aetomylaeus bovinus (Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire, 1817) The Forgotten Giant of the Shallows. Proceedings of the 22nd Annual European Elasmobranch Association Meeting, Peniche, Portugal

  • Walls RHL, Buscher E (2016) Aetomylaeus bovinus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016: e.T60127A81163810.

  • Ward-Paige, Lotze HK (2011) Assessing the Value of Recreational Divers for Censusing Elasmobranchs. PLoS One 6(10).

  • Watters R, Deriso RB (2000) Catches per unit of effort of bigeye tuna: a new analysis with regression trees and simulated annealing. Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission Bulletin 21(8):527–571

    Google Scholar 

  • Webster T, Dawson S, Slooten E (2010) A simple laser photogrammetry technique for measuring Hector’s dolphins (Cephalorhynchus hectori) in the field. Mar Mamm Sci 26(2):296–308.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Yigin CC, Ismen A (2012) Age, growth and reproduction of the common stingray, Dasyatis pastinaca from the North Aegean Sea. Mar Biol Res 8(7):644–653.

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references


We would like to thank Alberto Brito and Sabrina Clemente from La Laguna University. Also, we thank all the volunteers that willingly accompanied me during the surveys of this study, specially to Mr. Samuel Bello Alonso. We thank National Geographic Society and Oceanário de Lisboa for the support.



Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Corresponding author

Correspondence to Jorge Moreno.

Ethics declarations

Ethics Approval

No animal has been harmed during the conduction of this research.

Consent to Participate

Not applicable.

Consent for Publication

Not applicable.

Conflict of Interest

On behalf of all authors, the corresponding author states that there is no conflict of interest.

Additional information

Publisher's Note

Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Check for updates. Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Moreno, J., Solleliet-Ferreira, S.E. & Riera, R. Distribution and Abundance of Coastal Elasmobranchs in Tenerife (Canary Islands, NE Atlantic Ocean) with Emphasis on the Bull Ray, Aetomylaeus bovinus. Thalassas 38, 723–731 (2022).

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Revised:

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: