Feb 1

We’ve asked conservation organisations around the world to nominate a species that they believe to be overlooked, underappreciated and unloved, and tell us why they think that they deserve a fair share of the limelight, this Valentine’s Day.

Each nominee’s story is featured on the Arkive blog with information on the species, what makes them so special, the conservation organisation that nominated them and how they are working to save them from extinction.

Click the ‘unloved species’ tag above to see all of the nominations and their blogs.

Once you have perused the blogs you can vote for your favourite to help get them into the top ten unloved species and get them the recognition that they truly deserve! Share your favourite with others using the #LoveSpecies hashtag on Twitter and Facebook and tell them why they should vote for them too. Voting closes on February 14th at 23:59 PST (07:59 GMT).

Join us and our conservation partners in celebrating and raising awareness for some of the world’s most unloved species this Valentine’s Day!

Species: Cownose ray

Nominated by: Shark Advocates International

Conservation status: The IUCN classifies the cownose ray as Near Threatened, and warns that the establishment of unregulated fisheries for this species “could be devastating.” A similar species found off Brazil has been seriously overfished and is now categorized as Endangered.

Why do you love it? The cownose ray is a true stand out in terms of high susceptibility to overfishing, inadequate protection, misperceptions, and potential to help related species. Without sound scientific basis, cownose rays have been used as scapegoats for all manner of ecological problems. For too long, people have been encouraged to hunt, eat, and deplete rather than appreciate and conserve this vulnerable species. On the other hand, few animals bring more joy to aquarium visitors than this seemingly smiley and friendly ray. At a time when rays are more threatened and less protected than sharks, the cownose ray could serve as an excellent and urgently needed ambassador for this remarkable group of fishes.

What are the threats to the cownose ray? Cownose rays are exceptionally susceptible to overexploitation largely because females produce very few young – usually just one pup per year after age seven. Among the most vulnerable of all sharks and rays, they are simply not biologically equipped to withstand heavy fishing. Despite this, cownose rays have long been persecuted based on a perception that they are a nuisance. In Central and South American parts of their range, there are few if any controls on the fisheries that take them. Even in the US, where catches of most sharks and rays are limited, cownose rays are completely unprotected in the face of increased recreational bow-hunting and commercial seafood marketing campaigns.

What are you doing to save it? Shark Advocates International has been working for several years to publicize the exceptional vulnerability of cownose rays, and elevate their conservation priority. We collaborate with leading scientists to promote research into the species’ biology and ecology, while actively urging fishery managers to set precautionary limits on catch and assess population status. Increased support from the public is critical to the conservation of this often-demonized species.

Find out more about Shark Advocates and their conservation work

Discover more ray and skate species on Arkive



  • Mary Finelli (February 3rd, 2016 at 6:25 pm):

    Shark Advocates International is to be applauded for its work to promote the status of cownose rays and of all of the other species for which they advocate.

    Please sign the petition to protect cownose rays from vicious and ecologically reckless killing contests:

  • Gail Ryan (February 11th, 2016 at 2:42 pm):

    Please save the cow nose Rays!!!!