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
Winter skate, Big skate,
Spotted skate, Eyed skate.
Latin Names: Raja ocellata,
Identification: Rhomboid disc. Anterior disc margin blunter than a right
angle bulging opposite the eyes. Bluntly rounded snout, more concave towards the
blunt pectoral fin tips. Anterior surface tan or brown to gray with a pattern of
dark spots. 1 to 4 white eyespots may be present towards the rear of the
pectoral fins. This feature is the best way to differentiate this skate from the
little skate at a glance. A band of alar thorns are generally present around the
snout and eyes, along the disc margins (broadening towards the posterior edge),
and along the tail where they are more pronounced. The central line of the tail
is free of thorns. In adult males the claspers trail halfway down the tail
length. Positive identification (when eyespots are missing) can only be made by
counting teeth (72 to 110 in each jaw, 38 to 66 in the Little skate).
Size: 30" to 34" Maximum 42". At 32" long the disc
width is approximately 20"
Habitat: Sandy slopes sometimes adjacent to rocky reefs. From intertidal
to 600ft. Most common around 200ft but easily found in shallower areas.
Abundance and distribution: Western Atlantic, from Newfoundland to North
Carolina. Common along the New England coastline.
Winter skate comes closer to shore in the cooler months, in the southern part of
its range. Diurnal, lays motionless partially covered in sand during the day.
Forages for rock crabs and squid at night, as well as annelid worms, amphipods,
shrimps, and razor clams. Will also eat fish when available.
Oviparous. Lays oval egg capsules (known as mermaids
purses) with 4 pointed corners that it attaches to rocks and seaweed with sticky
tendrils. Reproduction takes place in summer and fall.
Whilst watching these skates swimming close to the sand,
they appeared to use a pointed section on the outer portions of their pelvic
fins to pull themselves along. I have not read of this so it may be just a
finning action. Please let me know if anyone can confirm this.
Back Beach and Kettle Island, Cape Ann peninsula,
Little skate Raja erinacea
Reaction to divers:
Skittish but will allow slow approach.
A great place to find this skate in the summer months
is Back Beach outside of Rockport, Cape Ann, Mass. A shore dive here is very
easy and the pebble beach increases visibility. Dive flag required by state law.
Air can be obtained from Cape Ann Divers who are also very knowledgeable about
dives in the area and can supply directions to other shore diving and organize
Fishes of the Gulf of Maine Bigelow and Schroeder.