Irish Skates and Rays


Related image
Thornback Ray, Raja clavata

Most sharks have a torpedo-like streamlined body, whereas skates and rays are defined by their flattened bodies.

In European waters, the name skate typically refers to the long-nosed larger species such as the White skate (Rostroraja alba) and the term ray refers to smaller species such as the Thornback ray (Raja clavata).

In fact these species are all skates because they lay eggs (oviparous), and the true rays are actually the species which give birth to live young (viviparous).

As with shark species, the wide range of marine habitats around our coastline means that we are lucky to have a large number of highly diverse ray and skate species

An impressive 33 species of rays and skates have been recorded in the Irish territory to date (correct as of Feb 23). These range from the relatively common Thornback ray (Raja clavata) to the Critically Endangered White skate (Rostroraja alba), which can grow to over two meters in diameter.

And our understanding is constantly evolving, and as such the previously known ‘Common Skate’ (Raja batis) is now considered to be a two distinct species – the Blue Skate (Dipturus batis) and the much larger Flapper Skate (Dipturus intermedius)

Below is a list (correct as of February 2023) of the species verified and recorded within the Irish territory: 

RAJIDAE (Skates & Rays)
White Skate Rostroraja alba
Longnosed Skate Dipturus oxyrinchus
Blue Skate Dipturus batis
Flapper Skate Dipturus intermedius
Norwegian Skate Dipturus nidarosiensis
Krefft’s Ray Malacoraja kreffti
Soft Skate Malacoraja spinacidermis
Richardson’s Ray Bathyraja richardsoni
Spinetail Ray Bathyraja spinicauda
Pale Ray Bathyraja pallida
Shorttail Skate Amblyraja jenseni
Arctic Skate Amblyraja hyperborea
Starry Skate Amblyraja radiata
Bigelow’s Ray Rajella bigelowi
Round Ray Rajella fyllae
Deep-water Ray Rajella bathyphila
Mid-Atlantic Skate Rajella kukujevi
Ghost Skate Rajella dissimilis
Cuckoo Ray Leucoraja naevus
Sandy Ray Leucoraja circularis
Shagreen Ray Leucoraja fullonica
Thornback Ray Raja clavata
Small-eyed Ray Raja microocellata
Blonde Ray Raja brachyura 
Spotted Ray Raja montagui
Undulate Ray Raja undulata
Blue Ray Neoraja caerulea
Common Stingray Dasyatis pastinaca
Pelagic (Violet) Stingray Pteroplatytrygon violacea
TORPEDINIDAE (Electric Rays)
Electric Ray Tetronarce nobiliana
Marbled Electric Ray Torpedo marmorata
MOBULIDAE (Devil Rays)
Devil Ray Mobula mobular
Eagle Ray Myliobatis aquila

The above list is only possible with a huge thanks to Declan Quigley for his boundless passion and dedicated investigations and record keeping