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Big Skate Raja binoculata


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Big Skate dorsal view
credit: NOAA - AFSC

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Family: Rajidae, Skates view all from this family

Description Flattened, diamond-shaped pectoral fin disk slightly wider than its length. Long, moderately pointed snout. Eyes small, placed just ahead of the large spiracles. Small teeth with raised cusps, with 24-48 rows in the upper jaw and 22-45 in lower. Pelvic fins have a weak notch in each. Two small dorsal fins on the tail, absent anal fin, and simple fold for the caudal fin.

Adults have 2-3 thorns mid-back, 13-17 (up to 55) thorns along midline of tail, and interdorsal thorn. Ventral side is white, with dark spots or blotches. Back is mottled brown to reddish brown, olive-brown, or gray, with small white spots or scattered dark blotches. Wings have two large dark spots with pale borders.

Dimensions Up to 8' (2.4 m).

Related Species Family: Rajidae.

Habitat Estuaries, tidal flats & salt marshes, Ocean or bay shallows.

Range California, Northwest, Western Canada, Alaska.

Discussion The big skate's slow reproductive rate has led it to be assessed as 'Near Threatened' by the World Conservation Union due to recreational and commercial fishing.