2,742Grants to


Mohamed bin Zayed Species project number 232532379

Reviving the Lost Legacy: First Data of Gymnura altavela in the 21st Century - A New Hope for Conservation

Mohamed bin Zayed Species Conservation (Project No. 232532379) - Spiny Butterfly Ray - Awarded $6,059 on November 30, 2023

In this century, no data or records have documented the presence of the Spiny Butterfly Ray in the Adriatic Sea. The species is considered one of the rarest and most threatened in the northern Mediterranean Sea; some authors have even considered it regionally extinct. However, through extensive and systematic field research, our team recorded a gravid female in Vlore, Albania, carrying seven near-term fetuses (read the paper here).  Subsequently, three more individuals were recorded, suggesting the possibility of a structured population inhabiting unexplored regions in the southern Adriatic Sea, rather than these occurrences being random.

The primary objective of this project is to investigate the frequency and abundance of the Spiny Butterfly Ray, and additionally, to confirm, map, and characterize potential nursery ground. We will assess and comprehend the impact of unregulated and destructive fisheries. Furthermore, we aim to unravel the effects of pollution on disease development and individual immunological responses in the context of broader environmental pressures. Through extensive stakeholder engagement, we will provide proper education and raise awareness within local communities and among fishermen regarding the critical importance of this species. This will include guidance on accurate species identification, appropriate handling techniques, and strategies to enhance post-capture survival rates.

The results obtained will facilitate the inclusion of the species in the updated Red List of Albania. Furthermore, through participation in the EUSAIR and Barcelona Convention, we will endeavor to develop species-specific measures for the long-term in-situ conservation of the Spiny Butterfly Ray in the Adriatic Sea – acting before it is too late.

Our discovery gained significant media attention in the region and was featured in numerous television shows and newspapers, including:





Project 232532379 location - Albania, Europe