An Updated Checklist of Indian Batoids with New Distributional Records and Conservation Status
Keywords:Rhinopristiformes, species composition, diversity, Indian EEZ, Conservation
The present paper is an attempt to provide new information on taxonomy, current distribution, and conservation status of batoids in India. This study is based on the landing site surveys conducted during the years 2017-2022 at major fish landing centres across India. The present study updated the checklist of Indian batoids to 77 valid species. They were caught in commercial and artisanal fisheries of India and several of them were caught as bycatch. Among the deep water batoids, Dipturus spp, Torpedo spp. and the Dark blind ray Benthobatis moresbyi were frequently observed in the deepwater trawl bycatch. Distributions of batoids were highly variable along the Indian coasts. Landing centre survey shows that distribution of Stripenose guitarfish Acroteriobatus variegatus is restricted to southern cost of India. Similarly Smoothback guitarfish Rhinobatos lionotus is restricted to east coast of India from Kilakarai, Tamil Nadu to Hoogly, West Bengal. In addition, distributional ranges of several batoid species in Indian waters were extended; Brown sting ray Bathytoshia lata and Smalleye stingray Megatrygon microps are new record to Andaman and Nicobar Islands. Indian Guitarfishes and Wedgefishes are declining drastically due to fishing pressure and habitat destruction, 21% of the species is Vulnerable and 19% are Endangered, 16% are Critically Endangered, and 7% Near Threatened respectively.