Common skate

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


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


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.

In our area

Common Skate were once widespread throughout European waters and were common in NI, particularly in Strangford Lough, which was hailed as one of the best recreational skate fishing areas in the UK and Ireland. However, now, throughout its range, Common Skate populations have been severely reduced and are now one step away from being classed as ‘Extinct in the Wild’.

The Sea Deep project is working alongside anglers to tag Common Skate. Tagging them will provide us with vital information that will enable us to recommend effective management conservation plans. Because the Common Skate is on the Northern Ireland Wildlife Order, this means that any anglers targeting them must have a license and only target them for conservation purposes.


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!
Flapper Skate taken by Scottish Shark Tagging Programme

See this beautiful video of 2 paired Flapper Skates taken by divers

Click Here