Cownose Ray Biological Assessment

Robert Fisher and cownose rays

Ever since cownose rays were seen gobbling up many of the oysters in a newly restored Chesapeake Bay oyster bed, commercial and environmental growers have been looking for a way to protect their investment from the predator, which is a Bay native. Proposed management strategies have included everything from putting up underwater fences around shellfish beds to opening a commercial fishery for cownose ray.

Robert Fisher, Virginia Sea Grant Fisheries Specialist at VIMS, has been investigating many of the management options. His basic biological research provides data that will help marine resource managers understand the ray and could help determine special considerations managers should take if a fishery is initiated. Fisher has also collaborated with others to find non-lethal deterrents to keep rays out of shellfish beds.

Technical Reports
Journal Articles
  • Ogburn, M.B., et al., 2018. Migratory connectivity and philopatry of cownose rays Rhinoptera bonasus along the Atlantic coast, USA. Marine Ecology Progress Series, 602: p. 197-211.
  • Kolmann, M.A., et al., 2018. Intraspecific variation in feeding mechanics and bite force in durophagous stingrays. Journal of Zoology, 304(4): p. 225-234.
  • Omori, K.L. and R.A. Fisher, 2017. Summer and fall movement of cownose ray, Rhinoptera bonasus, along the east coast of United States observed with pop-up satellite tags. Environmental Biology of Fishes, 100(11): p. 1435-1449.
  • Mann, R., et al., 2016. Oyster Planting Protocols to Deter Losses to Cownose Ray Predation. Journal of Shellfish Research, 35(1): p. 127-136.
  • Fisher, R.A., G.C. Call, and J.R. McDowell, 2014. Reproductive variations in cownose rays (Rhinoptera bonasus) from Chesapeake Bay. Environmental Biology of Fishes, 97(9): p. 1031-1038.
  • Fisher, R.A., G.C. Call, and R.D. Grubbs, 2013. Age, Growth, and Reproductive Biology of Cownose Rays in Chesapeake Bay. Marine and Coastal Fisheries, 5(1): p. 224-235.
  • Fisher, R.A., G.C. Call, and R.D. Grubbs, 2011. Cownose Ray (Rhinoptera Bonasus) Predation Relative to Bivalve Ontogeny. Journal of Shellfish Research, 30(1): p. 187-196.
  • Grusha, D.S. and M.R. Patterson, 2005. Quantification of drag and lift imposed by pop-up satellite archival tags and estimation of the metabolic cost to cownose rays (Rhinoptera bonasus). Fishery Bulletin, 103(1): p. 63-70.
  • Blaylock, R.A., 1993. Distribution and Abundance of the Cownose Ray, Rhinoptera bonasus, in Lower Chesapeake Bay. Estuaries, 16(2): p. 255-263.
  • Blaylock, R.A., 1990. Effects of External Biotelemetry Transmitters on Behavior of the Cownose Ray Rhinoptera bonasus (Mitchill 1815). Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology, 141(2-3): p. 213-220.
  • Blaylock, R.A., 1989. A Massive School of Cownose Rays, Rhinoptera-Bonasus (Rhinopteridae), in Lower Chesapeake Bay, Virginia. Copeia, (3): p. 744-748.
  • Smith, J.W. and J.V. Merriner, 1987. Age and Growth, Movements and Distribution of the Cownose Ray, Rhinoptera-Bonasus, in Chesapeake Bay. Estuaries, 10(2): p. 153-164.
  • Smith, J.W. and J.V. Merriner, 1986. Observations on the Reproductive-Biology of the Cownose Ray, Rhinoptera-Bonasus, in Chesapeake Bay. Fishery Bulletin, 84(4): p. 871-877.
  • Smith, J.W. and J.V. Merriner, 1985. Food-Habits and Feeding-Behavior of the Cownose Ray, Rhinoptera-Bonasus, in Lower Chesapeake Bay. Estuaries, 8(3): p. 305-310.
  • Smith, J.W. and J.V. Merriner, 1982. Association of Cobia, Rachycentron-Canadum, with Cownose Ray, Rhinoptera-Bonasus. Estuaries, 5(3): p. 240-242.
  • Hamlett, W.C., J.P. Wourms, and J.W. Smith, 1979. Maternal-Fetal Relationship in the Viviparous Cownose-Ray, Rhinoptera-Bonasus. American Zoologist, 19(3): p. 976-976.