We love skates—and this one is no exception! The sandpaper skate, known scientifically as Bathyraja kincaidii, is “commonly found at depths of 200–500 m, but is usually found in deeper water in the southern portion of its range, possibly to 1,372 m” according to the IUCN webpage. With this range, that means they are probably found on the continental shelf to upper slope and may like mud-cobble substrates like many other skates. This is helpful when females go to lay their eggs, which they could possibly bury in this silty bottom. Here, they may be preyed upon by mollusks that bore holes in them to feed on the nourishing yolk-sac.
This large skate is in the Rajidae family and can reach up to 63 cm in total length (TL) and can be confused with either the Bering Skate (Bathyraja interrupta) in the northern part of its range or the Longnose Skate (Raja rhina). The sandpaper skate has been observed from the Gulf of Alaska all the way south to northern Baja California in the Eastern Pacific. How positive are scientists about this range? Not 100% due to these identity slips! Their large size doesn’t protect any of these skates from becoming a meat to sharks or possibly whales.
According to the IUCN webpage, “Skates are generally not identified to species level and are often misidentified, precluding the collection of accurate species-specific catch data.” That means little is known about the population structure of the sandpaper skate. In fact, there is much we don’t know about these animals. They are assessed as Data Deficient (DD) by the IUCN.
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TFUI Founder Melissa C. Marquez is author of all animal bios and "Behind the Fins" segments.
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