Leopard whipray, Leopard whiptail stingray, Leopard whiptail ray, Bleeker’s
Himantura undulata, Trygon undulata (synonym).
A very large whiptail stingray with a bold pattern of irregular jaguar-like
disc with rounded tips. Anterior margin of disc almost straight. Snout obtusely
pointed, tips of pectoral fins rounded. Dorsum pale.
disc width 1.4m. Total recorded length 4.1m
Found inshore in sandy bays. Sometimes
found adjacent to rocky reefs.
and distribution: Indo Pacific region from Bay of Bengal to
Northern Australia. Absent from western Indian Ocean.
Rests in shallow bays partially
covered by sand.
Ovoviviparous. Embryos are initially fed by yolk sacs. Once the
yolk is absorbed the developing young suckle from villi; structures on the wall
of the uterus that deliver uterine milk.
Conservation Status: Listed as
VULNERABLE by the IUCN. This species is commercially valuable; throughout
Southeast Asia and parts of the Indian Ocean it is taken as utilised bycatch of
a range of commercial and artisanal fisheries including demersal trawl and
tangle/gill nets, dropline and longline fisheries and Danish seine fisheries. In
recent decades, demersal fishing pressure has increased in both capacity and
effort and is intense throughout this species’ inshore range in Southeast Asia
and parts of the Indian Ocean. Fishing pressure is also very heavy in the
Arafura Sea region; previously more than 600 trawlers operated and although the
numbers of currently active trawlers is unclear, there are still high levels of
Indonesian trawl fishing in the area. This level of exploitation is of great
concern to the sustainability of Bleeker’s Variegated Whipray populations in the
Arafura Sea. This species’ preference for inshore coastal waters means it is
also threatened by extensive habitat degradation and destructive fishing
practices throughout a large part of its range. Although species-specific data
are not available, given the species’ high levels of exploitation, extensive
habitat degradation and its large size, significant population declines are
suspected to have occurred and are likely to be ongoing across large areas of
The species is assessed as Vulnerable on the basis of suspected declines as a
result of high levels of exploitation and habitat degradation in large areas of
its range. This assessment should be revisited if and when there is any new
taxonomic information and/or distributional information as this may affect the
fishing pressure to which this species is exposed.
Similar species: The leopard
whipray shares some of it's range with the
honeycomb whipray Himantura uarnak
which can be distinguished by a pattern of much smaller spots.
Reaction to divers: Probably difficult to approach.
Most images taken in the wild of
leopard stingrays indicate that it is most often seen in Queensland Australia.
Rigby, C. 2012. Himantura undulata. The
IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2012: e.T161621A14793852. http://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2012-1.RLTS.T161621A14793852.en