In 2011, Sharklab-Malta recorded for the first time the presence of a bull ray (Aetomylaeus bovinus) in Maltese waters. Since 2011, every summer Sharklab collects pictures of bull rays in two bays of the island.
In 2015, Silvio Solleliet-Ferreira started an internship as a Masters student from La Rochelle University with the objective “To study the local population of Aetomylaeus bovinus, using their natural patterns”. Silvio spent 5 months snorkeling around Malta, gathering pictures of Bull rays. It was during this experience with Sharklab-Malta that he discovered a passion for sharks and rays, and decided to study behavioral ecology and conservation of apex predators. At this time the “International Union for Conservation of Nature” (IUCN) had classified the species as Data Deficient (DD) in the Mediterranean Sea. In 2016, the species jumped from the statute, Data Deficient (DD) to Critically Endangered (Cr), the last step before extinction.
Since then, Silvio decided to act for the conservation of bull rays and created the project “Fly With Bull Rays” (FWBR), to start studying bull ray (Aetomylaeus bovinus) populations in terms of size, trend, habitat, ecology and threats; using an intraspecific and non-invasive photo-identification methodology for the species for the first time.
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