Reproductive cycles of the southern banded guitarfish Zapteryx xyster and the Velez ray Raja velezi caught as bycatch in a bottom-trawl fishery
Azofeifa-Solano, Juan Carlos
Clarke, Tayler M.
Wehrtmann, Ingo S.
The southern banded guitarfish, Zapteryx xyster, and the Velez ray, Raja velezi, are two endemic elasmobranchs in the eastern Tropical Pacific that are commonly caught by the bottom-trawl fishery. Reproductive cycles of these batoids were inferred from the hepatosomatic and gonadosomatic indexes (males and females) and the oviductal gland width and the yolk follicle diameter (females) of mature specimens collected along the Pacific of Costa Rica between 2010 and 2011. Z. xyster females have a partially defined annual cycle with one reproductive peak in June and July, with most neonates and gravid females occurring during December and January (beginning of the dry season). The gestation period of Z. xyster can range between four and six months; males are probably capable of mating continuously throughout the year. Females and males of R. velezi have a continuous reproductive cycle with no clear peaks. Management and conservation measures of these batoids should consider their reproductive ecology, which may be linked to the degree of vulnerability to fishing. Based on our findings, we recommend reducing fishing pressure when mating (June-July) and pupping (December-January) of Z. xyster occur. In contrast, a reduction of fishing pressure on previously identified nursery grounds of R. velezi in the southern Pacific of Costa Rica may benefit their population.