The Blonde skate (Raja brachyura), also known as the Blonde ray, is a relatively large skate, reaching a maximum size of ~120 cm total length (TL) and a common size of 40-80 cm TL. They are a yellowish/light brown colour on top, covered in dark spots that go to the edges of their pectoral fins; they are white underneath. It is thought that the Blonde Ray gets as old as 15 years of age. It is endemic to northeast Atlantic waters and is rarely seen in the western Mediterranean Sea. It prefers softer, sandy sediments in the NE Atlantic up to 150 m (492 ft), and is seen from 10-300 m (32-984 ft) deep in the Mediterranean Sea.
Large individuals are on a mostly piscivorous diet, preferring dragonet and sand eels on top of the juvenile diet of small crustaceans. Like other skates, their reproduction is oviparous. Little information is known about their reproductive biology, although scientists know they reproduce from February-August with a gestation period of about seven months. Females can produce up to 30 egg cases per year- wow!
These animals are taken as bycatch due to fisheries using trawls, gill nets or longlines. The blonde skate has been assessed by the IUCN as Near Threatened (NT). A great infographic from Shark Trust exists for this species.
ever heard of this skate?
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TFUI Founder Melissa C. Marquez is author of all animal bios and "Behind the Fins" segments.
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