StatisticsLength: Up to 285cm
Weight: Up to 97.1kg
Average Lifespan: Can live for between 50-100 years.
When to seeJanuary to December
AboutThe 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 identifyCommon 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.
DistributionOnce 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 helpSkate 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.