Flapper (common) skate

Flapper (common) skate ©Scottish Shark Tagging Programme

Common skate

Scientific name: Dipturus batis
Despite its name, the "common" skate is not so common anymore. In fact, they are Critically Endangered.

Species information

Statistics

Length: Up to 285cm
Weight: Up to 97.1kg
Average Lifespan: Can live for between 50-100 years.

Conservation status

The common skate is listed as Critically Endangered on the IUCN Red List. It is a Priority Species under the UK Post-2010 Biodiversity Framework.

When to see

January to December

About

The largest species of skate in the world, the common skate is also one of Britain's largest fish species. They live on sandy or muddy seabeds, down to depths of 600m. Whilst mostly feeding on crustaceans with their powerful jaws, common skate have the speed and manoeuvrability to catch pelagic species such as mackerel too. Genetic research has found that the common skate is actually 2 species: the blue skate and the flapper skate.

How to identify

Common skate are often olive to dark brown with a variable pattern of lighter blotches on the back. Adults have two rows of 12-18 thorns on the tail. They have a long, pointed snout.

Distribution

Once common to all shores, the common skate is now only usually seen in the Celtic Sea and off the coast of North-West Scotland.

Did you know?

The common skate lays egg cases or 'mermaids purses' that are around 25cm long... excluding the horns. After 2-5 months the juveniles will emerge already over 20cm long!

How people can help

Skate is critically endangered and should not be eaten. Avoid eating 'ray wings', as although labelled as rays, these can often be skates. Choose sustainable seafood instead, visit www.cornwallgoodseafoodguide.org.uk for guidance.

The Wildlife Trusts are working with sea users, scientists, politicians and local people towards a vision of 'Living Seas', where marine wildlife thrives. Do your bit for our Living Seas by supporting your local Wildlife Trust or checking out our Action Pages.