The Fins United Initiative is excited to bring back the loved "Underrated Elasmobranch Spotlight" series through TFUI officer Jess Myers. Learn about the Chondrichthyans not shown on the big screen through her beautiful artwork!
As the name implies, the thorny skate or starry ray (Amblyraja radiata) is covered from tail to snout in spines or “thornlets.” These skates can grow up to 105cm (~3.5 feet) and can live to be almost 30 years old! They are found in the cold waters (2-5˚C / 35-41˚F) of the northeast Atlantic Ocean between 50 and 100 meters (160-330 feet) below the surface.
In their youth, thorny skates are rounder in shape and develop a more pointed snout and wings (pectoral fins) as they age. Not only does their shape change with age, but diet too! With time and improved hunting, a menu initially consisting of fish, crustaceans (crabs, lobsters, shrimp), and worms will also include molluscs, cephalopods (squid and octopuses), and echinoderms (sea stars, sea cucumbers, and sea urchins).
Female thorny skates lay anywhere from 10 to 45 egg cases a year. Eggs are usually laid in pairs and after 4 months, teeny tiny skates about 8-11cm (3-4 inches) in length emerge from them. Young skates have been known to follow large objects, like their mother. Why do you think that might be?
Their last population assessment determined that the skates were considered Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List (2004). Reference image and information retrieved from FishBase.
WHAT UNDERRATED CHONDRICHTHYAN DO YOU THINK SHARK WEEK SHOULD SHOWCASE?
TFUI Founder Melissa C. Marquez is author of all animal bios and "Behind the Fins" segments.
SEE MELISSA'S TEDx TALK HERE:
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