Short-term habitat use and vertical movements of the pelagic stingray Pteroplatytrygon violacea in the western North Atlantic Ocean determined by pop-up archival satellite tags
The pelagic stingray, Pteroplatytrygon violacea, is commonly encountered as bycatch in pelagic longline fisheries targeting Swordfish, Xiphias gladius, and tunas; however, very little is known about its habitat use. To better assess the utility of the technology and attachment method, four pop-up satellite archival tags (PSATs) with short, 13-day durations were deployed on pelagic stingrays in 2010 and 2011 in the South Atlantic Bight (n = 2) and the northern Gulf of Mexico (n = 2). Analysis of the minimum straight-line distances from the first transmission locations compared to release locations showed that pelagic stingrays moved from 151.0 to 258.0 km [mean (SD) = 190.8 (46.6) km] or between 11.6 to 19.8 km day−1. Data also indicates pelagic stingrays undergo small diel vertical migrations with stingrays inhabiting slightly warmer [20.95 (3.4) °C], shallower [128.6 (99.8) m] waters at night, compared to cooler [19.7 (3.0) °C], deeper [167.0 (112.4) m] waters during the day. Understanding habitat use and behavior of less economically important species, particularly those that compose a substantial portion of bycatch like pelagic stingrays, will help fisheries managers account for these interactions with more economically valuable target species, as well as advance the overall understanding of pelagic ecosystems and aid in conservation efforts.