© Jean Tresfon


Skates (Rajidae)


Skates can measure up to 2 m in size.


The bodies of skates are flat and shaped like a disc. Their wings are triangular. Skates are differentiated from rays by their distinct pectoral fin located behind the wings. Ventrally, they are usually white in colour with different colours on top.

General Info

Skates belong to the Rajidae family which comprises of 18 genera and 200 species. Their eyes are located at the top of their heads and have spiracles behind them. The skin is prickly and rough, and some species have prickles along their midline. These are oviparous, bottom-feeding creatures. The cases in which their eggs are held are pointy and have four extended tips which anchor the case.


Skates hide under the sand to catch their prey by surprise. They feed on small fish and crustaceans


Skates can be found in all tropical and temperate oceans across the world.

Common Species

Winter skate (Raja ocellata)
Biscuit ray (Raja miraletus)
Thornback ray (Amblyraja radiata)

© Johan Boshoff