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Thanks to our ambassador Amie Williams for putting this together. Amie is the project officer at the Scottish Shark Tagging Programme and will be sharing lots of amazing research with us.
Common Skate (Dipturus intermedia and Dipturus flossada)
The common skate is actually now considered to be two separate species, the flapper skate and the blue skate (Dipturus intermedia and Dipturus flossada respectively).
Common skate are characterized by their flattened body and long, pointed snout. Coloration on their dorsal side is generally olive-grey-brown complimented by unique markings, with their ventral white.
The common skate’s distribution historically was spread across the northeast Atlantic Ocean and Mediterranean Sea, however now, severe population declines has led to a more sporadic distribution. Although reporting exists for the species within the North Sea, Irish Channel and Bristol Channel (Dulvy, 2006)., they are predominately found within the deep channels of the the west coast of Scotland and the Celtic Sea (Dulvy, 2006).
Common skate are bottom dwellers, and can be found at depths of up to 600 m, however are more commonly found at 200 m.
Naturally, due to their demersal behavior, the common skate feed on organisms found on the sea floor such as worms, flatfish, shellfish, crustaceans and even small fish and sand eels. However, larger individuals will feed on larger fish (Stehmann and Bürkel, 1984) and will also predate on individuals’ mid-water column.
Unfortunately, the common skate is listed as “critically endangered” on the IUCN Red List of threatened species.
Within Scotland, a marine protected area (MPA) was implemented in 2014 from Loch Sunart-Sound of Jura. Scottish Natural Heritages’ (SNH) site summary of the MPA states “Common skate appear quite sedentary, each remaining in a relatively small geographical area year round. Loch Sunart to the Sound of Jura Marine Protected Area (MPA) has been shown to support a good number of resident mature common skate that may also be breeding in the area.” (SNH, 2014).
Common skate are most often caught due to their size (Dulvy et al., 2006). This makes them particularly vulnerable as a bycatch in benthic trawl and gillnet fisheries, although have historically been a target species (Dulvy et al., 2006).
- Tagged: Common Skate, Elasmobranch, IUCN Red List, save sharks, Scottish Shark Tagging Program, Shark education, Shark science