Not just a
huge collection of
Elasmodiver.com contains images of sharks, skates, rays, and a few
chimaera's from around the world. Elasmodiver began as a simple web
to help divers find the best places to encounter the different
species of sharks and rays that live in shallow water but it has
slowly evolved into a much larger project containing information on
all aspects of shark diving and shark photography.
now more than 10,000 shark pictures and sections on shark
evolution, biology, and conservation. There is a large library of
reviewed shark books, a constantly updated shark taxonomy page, a
monster list of shark links, and deeper in the site there are
numerous articles and stories about shark encounters. Elasmodiver is
now so difficult to check for updates, that new information and
pictures are listed on an Elasmodiver Updates Page that can be
thorny skate, starry skate, starry ray,
thorny back, maiden ray.
Amblyraja radiata Synonyms: Raja radiata,
Raia americana, Raia scabrata.
Inuktitut, Escrita Spain Spanish, Klorocka Sweden Swedish, Klorokke Norway
Norwegian, Kloskate Norway Norwegian, Kollivsiuternak Canada Inuktitut,
Kynsirausku Finland Finnish, Pinnagigga Faeroe Is Faroese, Pinnaskøta Faeroe Is
Faroese, Qarlêk Can Quebec Inuktitut, Raia-repregada Portugal Portuguese, Raie
épineuse Canada French, Raie radiée France French, Raie radiée épineuse France
French, Raja promienista Poland Polish, Raya radiante Spain Spanish, Sternrochen
Germany German, Sterrog Netherlands Dutch, Taralikisâk Greenland Inuktitut,
Tindaskata Iceland Icelandic, Tindaskøta Faeroe Is Faroese, Tærbe Denmark
Danish, Vatos spinos Romania Rumanian, Zvezdchatyi skat Russia Fed Russian.
Disc rhomboid but more rounded in juveniles. Disc width
and length roughly equal. Leading edges of body disc slightly convex, forming a
rounded snout with a central point. Tail shorter than disc. Dorsum covered with
large thorns. Thorns behind eyes and a row of 13 - 17 thorns along centre line
of back to first dorsal fin are particularly prominent. Thorns towards front of
disc have star shaped bases (hence starry skate/ray). Dorsum light brown to grey with
irregular scattered dark blotches. Black spot at end of tail. Ventrum pale/white
length 105cm. Length at maturity 50-56cm. North American thorny skates reach a
larger size than European specimens.
The thorny skate inhabits all types of bottom
compositions but it is most common on sandy, substrates. From 6 to 1400m but
usually between 27-439m.
Abundance and distribution:
The thorny skate is a wide ranging species in the North
Atlantic Ocean and western Baltic Sea. The North American population ranges from
South Carolina up to Hudson Bay and then follows the continental shelf around
the southern end of Greenland across to join the Eastern Atlantic population.
The eastern range extends from the English Channel up to Scantinavia and into
There is also a
localized population of thorny skates around Cape Town in South Africa.
by the North east Fisheries Science Center indicate that thorny skates in US
waters are most abundant in the Gulf of Maine and Georges Bank regions.
They are the most abundant skate species in the North Sea.
Migration: Tagging studies on the Grand Banks indicate that the thorny skate
is a highly sedentary species that remains in a small area for much of its life.
Upon recapture (sometimes after a liberty of up to 20 years) thorny skates had
moved less than 90 miles. Some populations have been found to undergo a short
migration into deeper water during the winter months.
Crustaceans, polychaete worms and benthic fishes
including sand lance, wolffish, haddock and sculpins. Smaller individuals are
restricted to polychaete worms and decapods. Larger animals (60cm+) consume more
Oviparous. Thorny skate egg cases are deposited on sand and mud flats. They
range in size from 3.4 to 8.9cm in length. They are rectangular in shape with
hardened pointed corners. Thorny skate embryos fall prey to halibut, goosefish,
Greenland sharks and predatory gastropods.
development study in the North Sea recorded average hatching times of 2.5-3
years while laboratory specimens developed in 2-2.5 years.
skate is considered 'vulnerable' by the IUCN. Although this species is not the
focus of a directed fishery it is caught in trawling/dredging operations
targeting other benthic fishes and invertebrates. Surveys indicate that the
thorny skate is increasing in some areas but it is in decline overall.
Taken from the
IUCN Red List: "The low relative abundance, below the fisheries limit reference
point compared to early survey abundance estimates, the long-term population
decline, lack of population increase with strict management laws, and the
inability to monitor species specific landings result in an assessment of this
species as Critically Endangered in USA waters."
Kings Beach, Rhode Island. Specimen released from
bycatch collected while trawling for squid. Images were made possible through
the kind cooperation of Brian Raymond.
There are a number of other skates inhabiting this region but the thorny skate's
rough dorsum makes positive identification relatively easy.
Reaction to divers:
Swims away and resettles when closely approached.
The thorny skate generally inhabits depths
exceeding normal diving limits.