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Little Skate Raja erinacea


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Skate (Raja erinacea)
credit: Mount Desert Island Biological Laboratory, Maine.

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Family: Rajidae, Skates view all from this family

Description Grayish or variable shades of brown above, lighter towards the edges, white or gray below. Most have small, round, dark spots on the back. Tail has irregular blotches or a dark gray ventral surface. Pelvic fins are divided into two parts: forward lobe is a leg-like structure. Two small, closely-spaced dorsal fins are located near the tip of the tail. Adults have tail shorter than disk, juveniles have longer tail. Adults have small dermal denticles and strong spines on the dorsal surfaces of the head, shoulders, and tail. Males tend to have fewer spines than females. Jaws contain 38-66 series of round teeth on plates.

Dimensions Up to 21" (53 cm).

Related Species Winter Skate (Leucoraja ocellata).

Habitat Ocean or bay shallows.

Range New England, Mid-Atlantic, Southeast, Eastern Canada.

Discussion Little skates are oviparous. Mating occurs frequently throughout the year and pregnant females can be found year-round. Have an extremely high number of electrosensory ampullae of Lorenzini around its mouth, giving it a high degree of spatial precision when hunting for prey buried in the substrate. Is mostly utilized as bait for lobster traps; its wings are also marketed for food. Also important as a model organism for biological and medical research.