Thorny skate Facts

Thorny skate Facts
Thorny skate is cartilaginous fish that belongs to the family Rajidae. It can be found in the northern and eastern parts of Atlantic ocean. Thorny skate is adapted to the life in subarctic to arctic climate. It lives in cold waters (2 to 10 degrees of Celsius), on sandy, gravelly, muddy or pebbly sea floor, on a depth from 20 to 3.900 feet. Thorny skates are part of human diet. Besides commercial fishing, number of thorny skates in the ocean is declining due to bycatch (they often end up trapped in the fishing nets by accident), predators and competition for food with smooth skates. Thorny skate is listed as vulnerable, which means that it can become endangered in the near future.
Interesting Thorny skate Facts:
Thorny skate can reach 39 inches in length and 19 to 20 inches in width. North American thorny skates are larger than European specimens.
Thorny skate has brown back and white belly. Dark spots on the back and brown blotches on the belly can be occasionally seen.
Thorny skate has flattened, rhomboid-shaped body with long tail.
Thorny skate has 11 to 19 large, prominent thorns that stretch from the neck to the tail. Shoulders, areas around eyes, snout, spiracle and pectoral fins are covered with smaller spines. Large thorns are responsible for the common name of this animal - "thorny" skate. Unlike the skin on dorsal side of the body, skin on the belly is smooth.
Thorny skate has 36 to 46 rows of teeth in upper and lower jaw.
Thorny skate is a carnivore (meat-eater). Its diet is based on shrimps, spider crabs, squids, anemones, worms and fish.
Thorny skate rarely travels more than 90 miles per year. It migrates seasonally toward deeper waters (during the winter).
Even though thorny skates are adapted to the life in the ocean, they were part of fauna of Lake Melville (Labrador) during the 1980s.
Thorny skates are not dangerous for humans. They avoid contact with divers (swim away from them).
Halibut, goosefish, Greenland sharks and some species of predatory gastropods collect and eat eggs of thorny skates. Seals and sharks are natural enemies of adult thorny skates.
Thanks to the camouflaging colors of the body, thorny skate "hides" from predators by blending with its surroundings (seafloor).
Thorny skates can breed all year round.
Embryonic development of thorny skates lasts 2.5 to 3 years. Female lays eggs covered with protective case (capsule) that is rectangular shaped and hardened on the corners. Majority of egg capsules are laid in the sand and mud during the May and October.
Thorny skates reach sexual maturity at the age of 10 to 14 years. Smaller, European thorny skates often reach maturity at the younger age compared to their American relatives.
Thorny skate can survive up to 28 years in the wild.

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