New ray discovered in Kanchanaburi
The Wildlife Fund Thailand (WFT) and the Smithsonian Institute have jointly identified a new species of aquatic ray living in a river in Kanchanaburi province.
A Smithsonian institute researcher shows the new species of string ray, Himantura Kittipongi.
The new species has been named Himantura Kittipongi in honour of Kittipong Charuthanin, who found a ray with strange features in the Mae Klong River in 2004 and gave it to the WFT to examine.
"After research and comparing its features with known species, we have found this is a new species in the family of Dasyatidae," WFT expert Dr Chavalit Vithayanont said yesterday. He added that Dr Tyson Robert from the Smithsonian Institute had helped verify the new ray species.
According to Chavalit, the Humantura Kittipongi's outstanding features are its dark, yellowish-brown shade on its back and as many as 15 rows of small teeth in its mandible. Chavalit said he thought the discovery of Humantura Kittipongi was proof of the Mae Klong's good ecological system.
"Ray species are generally very sensitive to ecological changes," he said.
However, Chavalit expressed concern at the fact the rays were often caught in fishing nets and any changes in the river, such as a construction of a dyke, could adversely affect Humantura Kittipongi's existence.
"If the species disappears from the river, it becomes extinct. Unlike marine fish, the species in the river does not have the possibility of spreading its species into the vast expanse of seas or oceans," he said.
Chavalit recommended the establishment of fishing zones, because local people didn't want to catch the ray in the first place.
On a national level, he called on relevant authorities to prioritise research into the diversity of aquatic animals in the country, and to give them protection.