SMALLEYE STINGRAY (Dasyatis microps)
The first live Smalleye Stingray ever seen in the Western Indian Ocean was identified in Tofo by researchers from the Marine Megafauna Foundation (MMF), a non-profit charitable organization based in Tofo that focuses on the research and conservation of threatened large marine species. It was also during this encounter that, for the first time, live photographs of this species were taken. Today, Tofo is still one of the very few spots where this
species can be found! The Smalleye Stingray is the largest species of stingray, reaching up
to 2.2 meters disc width and a total length of 3.2 meters. This scarcely seen but widely
distributed species is found in the Indo-Pacific from Mozambique to India and to Northern
Australia. Its preferred habitat is uncertain as it has been reported from estuarine, river
mouths and coastal waters, as well as from deep waters. In Tofo, Smalleye Stingrays
have been seen swimming over reefs at a depth of 15–25 meters, where the water
temperature is 23–28°C. The Smalleye Stingray has a distinctive diamond - shaped
pectoral fin disc, which is more than 1.4 times wider than it is long, and a broad tail that
is flattened in front of the spine but whip-like behind. Its dorsal side is brown to reddish
brown and bears a characteristic pattern of large white spots displayed beside the eyes,
around the disc centre and in a row on either side of the pectoral fins. As the name
suggests, it has a pair of small eyes, immediately followed by much larger spiracles. Off
Tofo, most individuals are accompanied by multiple cobia.
PLEASE NOTE THAT AN ENCOUNTER WITH A SMALLEYE STINGRAY CAN NEVER BE GUARANTEED ON A PARTICULAR DIVE!! This is what makes the wild so special; every day is just unique!