Historically, the Maltese ray populated the Mediterranean Sea in the coastal waters of Italy, Algeria, Malta and Tunisia. Today, its range is limited to the heavily-fished Strait of Sicily, a 90-mile-wide channel between Italy and Tunisia. Though little is known about this particular species, it likely displays characteristics similar to other rays: It grows slowly, matures late and produces few offspring. Commercial fishing vessels rarely target the Maltese ray. Rather, it is taken as bycatch in boats harvesting other species. Once they're caught, these unwanted fish are thrown back into the water, dead or dying. The decreasing population of this species and the slow response by regional governments to save it earned the Maltese ray a critically endangered rating from the IUCN.