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25. White Skate

Rostroraja alba

About

The white skate is one of the largest European skate species, reaching lengths of 2m. It lives on rocky and sandy bottoms up to a depth of up to 400m.

Very little is known about the biology of this species. Fisheries that specifically targeted this species used to exist, but they have collapsed due to low numbers of individuals. Because of its large size, slow growth and low fecundity, it is extremely susceptible to overfishing and thus any substantial extraction can lead to rapid population declines.

This species is oviparous, meaning they lay eggs which hatch outside of the female’s body. Females produce 55-156 egg cases per year, each one measuring approximately 12cm by 10cm. This makes them one of the largest marine egg cases in Europe. The eggs take 15 months to develop.

In 2007, the white skate was included on the UK’s Biodiversity Action Plan list, which aims to stabilise populations of white skate in refuge sites and to aid in the migration of this species from refuge populations to areas where numbers are much lower. In 2009, the white skate received protection from the European Council which means this species cannot be fished or landed if caught accidentally.

The white skate is also known as bottlenose or spearnose skate.

  • Order: Rajiformes
  • Family: Rajidae
  • Trend: decreasing
  • Size: Up to 2m (?)
  • Depth Range (m): Up to 400m

EDGE Score

EDGE Score: 5.96 (?)
ED Score: 47.41 (?)
GE / IUCN Red List (?)
Not Evaluated Data Deficient Least Concern Near Threatened Vulnerable Endangered Critically Endangered Extinct in the Wild Extinct

Distribution

The range of the white skate is extensive, although it is only encountered in isolated stretches of the Atlantic from the UK to South Africa, the Mediterranean and the Southwest Indian Ocean.

Habitat and Ecology

The white skate inhabits sandy and rocky habitats from 40-400m. Very little is known about its biology, but it is assumed that this species feeds on bottom dwelling prey such as fish, crustaceans and cephalopods.

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