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The Straits Times
Aug 5, 2023
No, this is not a promotion for the upcoming Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem movie, despite this rider looking like a hero in a half-shell.
A viral image circulating online earlier this week of a motorcyclist with a stingray strapped to his back drew more than a few comparisons from online commenters to the beloved pizza-eating, wisecracking, anthropomorphic turtle superheroes we all know and love.
A man was seen carrying the 25kg stingray like a backpack while on his motorbike at the intersection of Pasir Ris Industrial Drive 1, according to a report from Malay-language daily Berita Harian.
In an interview with Berita Harian, the 36-year-old man said he had caught the stingray on the morning of July 22, along with two other broad cowtail rays weighing 19kg and 61kg.
The stingrays were then reportedly divided between the man and his friends, before being further shared with members of his family and neighbours and cooked in a variety of dishes.
While some might be tickled at the prospect of an unintentionally cartoonish Ninja Turtle cosplay, wildlife enthusiasts have urged local anglers to be more mindful when catching rays, as some species are classified as endangered in Singapore.
The ray in the image, which went viral when it was uploaded last Tuesday, is likely to be either the critically endangered broad cowtail ray (Pastinachus ater) or cowtail ray (Pastinachus sephen), said a spokesman from conservation non-profit organisation Marine Stewards in response to queries from The Straits Times.
The broad cowtail ray is classified as critically endangered in the Singapore Red Data Book and vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) Red List. The cowtail ray is listed as near threatened under IUCN, and is not listed in the Red Data Book.
Species listed as vulnerable on the IUCN’s Red List are “considered to be facing a high risk of extinction in the wild”, while those that are critically endangered face an “extremely high risk of extinction in the wild”.
The Singapore Red Data Book provides information such as the scientific and common names, IUCN global status, national conservation status and description of each plant and animal species.
It uses the same evaluation metrics and references the international status, but also assigns a local status for the animal.
“Generally, stingrays have low birth rates, and are susceptible to fishing pressure.
“So, anglers can consider to release them,” said the Marine Stewards spokesman.
In response to ST queries, Mr Ryan Lee, group director of the National Parks Board’s National Biodiversity Centre, urged members of the public to carry out recreational fishing responsibly.
“This includes using sustainable fishing methods like catch-and-release fishing, where fish that are caught are released back into the sea,” he said.
He added that stingrays play a key role in coastal and marine ecosystems, and noted that Singapore’s waters are home to a variety of them, including species like the broad cowtail ray.
“(Stingrays) control prey populations by feeding on a variety of fish and crustaceans. The excavation of sand by stingrays that feed or burrow on the seafloor also helps create microhabitats for invertebrates,” said Mr Lee.
In 2021, a video clip of an endangered eagle ray being reeled in at East Coast Park went viral, with multiple images and videos showing the ray being dragged along a jetty.