Growth, maturity, and diet of the pearl whipray (Fontitrygon margaritella) from the Bijagós Archipelago, Guinea-Bissau

Owen N. Clements, Guido Leurs*, Rob Witbaard, Ido Pen, Yvonne I. Verkuil, Laura L. Govers

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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The pearl whipray Fontitrygon margaritella (Compagno & Roberts, 1984) is a common elasmobranch in coastal western African waters. However, knowledge on their life-history and trophic ecology remains limited. Therefore, we aimed to determine the growth, maturity and diet of F. margaritella from the Bijagós Archipelago in Guinea-Bissau. Growth was modelled with: von Bertalanffy, Gompertz and logistic functions. Model selection revealed no model significantly outperformed another. The sampled age ranged from less than 1 to 7 years (1.8 ± 1.9 cm, mean ± standard deviation) and size (disc width) ranged from 12.2 to 30.6 cm (18.7 ± 5.2 cm). Size-at-maturity was estimated at 20.3 cm (95% CI [18.8-21.8 cm]) for males and 24.3 cm for females (95% CI [21.9-26.5 cm]), corresponding ages of 2.2 and 3.9 years. The diet differed significantly among young-of-the-year (YOY), juveniles and adults (p = 0.001). Diet of all life stages consisted mainly of crustaceans (27.4%, 28.5%, 33.3%) and polychaetes (12.5%, 26.7%, 20.3%), for YOY, juveniles and adults respectively. This study shows that F. margaritella is relatively fast-growing, matures early and experiences ontogenetic diet shifts. These results contribute to status assessments and conservation efforts of F. margaritella and closely related species.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere12894
Number of pages16
Publication statusPublished - 7-Mar-2022


  • Batoidea
  • Coastal ecology
  • Life-history
  • Ontogenetic shifts
  • Size-at-maturity
  • Trophic ecology

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