Description of the mechanoreceptive lateral line and electroreceptive ampullary systems in the freshwater whipray, Himantura dalyensis

Published on 24 June 2011.

Teagan A. Marzullo, Barbara E. Wueringer, Lyle Squire Jnr and Shaun P. Collin.


Mechanoreceptive and electroreceptive anatomical specialisations in freshwater elasmobranch fishes are largely unknown. The freshwater whipray, Himantura dalyensis, is one of a few Australian elasmobranch species that occur in low salinity (oligohaline) environments. The distribution and morphology of the mechanoreceptive lateral line and the electroreceptive ampullae of Lorenzini were investigated by dissection and compared with previous studies on related species. The distribution of the pit organs resembles that of a marine ray, Dasyatis sabina, although their orientation differs. The lateral line canals of H. dalyensis are distributed similarly compared with two marine relatives, H. gerrardi and D. sabina. However, convolutions of the ventral canals and proliferations of the infraorbital canal are more extensive in H. dalyensis than H. gerrardi. The intricate nature of the ventral, non-pored canals suggests a mechanotactile function, as previously demonstrated in D. sabina. The ampullary system of H. dalyensis is not typical of an obligate freshwater elasmobranch (i.e. H. signifer), and its morphology and pore distribution resembles those of marine dasyatids. These results suggest that H. dalyensis is euryhaline, with sensory systems adapted similarly to those described in marine and estuarine species.

Marine and Freshwater Research 62(6) 771-779

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