Marine and Freshwater Research Marine and Freshwater Research Society
Advances in the aquatic sciences

Maturity and growth characteristics of a commercially exploited stingray, Dasyatis dipterura

Wade D. Smith A C , Gregor M. Cailliet A and Everardo Mariano Melendez B

A Moss Landing Marine Laboratories, Pacific Shark Research Center, 8272 Moss Landing Road, Moss Landing, CA 95039, USA.

B Universidad Autonóma de Baja California Sur, La Paz, BCS 23080, Mexico.

C Corresponding author. Email:

Marine and Freshwater Research 58(1) 54-66
Submitted: 17 May 2006  Accepted: 13 October 2006   Published: 30 January 2007


Maturity and growth characteristics were estimated for Dasyatis dipterura from western Mexico, where it is a common component of artisanal elasmobranch fisheries. Median disc width at maturity was estimated as 57.3 cm for females (n = 126) and 46.5 cm for males (n = 55) respectively. Age estimates were obtained from 304 fishery-derived specimens (169 female, 135 male). An annual pattern of band-pair deposition was validated through modified centrum edge and marginal increment analyses. Gompertz, polynomial and von Bertalanffy growth models were fit to disc width and weight-at-age data. Resulting models were evaluated based on biological rationale, standard error of model estimates, and Akaike’s information criteria. Growth characteristics differed significantly between females and males. Maximum age estimates were 28 years for females and 19 years for males. Three-parameter von Bertalanffy growth models of disc width-at-age data generated the most appropriate fits and produced relatively low estimates of instantaneous growth rates for females (DW = 92.4 cm, k = 0.05, t0 = –7.61, DW0 = 31.4 cm) and males (DW = 62.2 cm, k = 0.10, t0 = –6.80, DW0 = 31.3 cm). These values are the lowest reported for myliobatiform stingrays and indicate slow growth rates in comparison with elasmobranchs in general.

Additional keywords: Dasyatidae, fisheries management, growth models, marginal increment analysis, Mexico, model selection, Myliobatiformes.


This study was made possible, in part, by funding provided from the California Sea Grant College System (R/F-29PD), Homeland Foundation, Earl H. and Ethel M. Myers Oceanographic and Marine Biological Trust, National Marine Fisheries Service via the National Shark Research Consortium and Pacific Shark Research Center, PADI Foundation, PADI Project AWARE, San Francisco State University Student Project Fund, and the Packard Foundation Scholarship. Research was conducted in accordance with and under the approval of the San Francisco State University Committee for the Protection of Human and Animal Subjects Protocol #01–038. We thank Joseph Bizzarro, Ann Beesley, Carolina Downton Hoffman, Felipe Galván Magaña, Carlos Villavicencio Garayzar, and Moss Landing Marine Laboratories’ small boat operations for assistance and support in the field. Mindy Hall provided valuable laboratory assistance. We are grateful to fishermen throughout the Bahía Magdalena lagoon complex for their cooperation in this project, particularly those of Puerto Viejo who offered patience and unrestricted access to their landings. We also thank two anonymous reviewers and the editor for their valuable comments.


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