Undulate ray

Undulate ray ©Peter Verhoog

Undulate ray

Scientific name: Raja undulata
The undulate ray has beautiful wavy patterns on its back, which helps it camouflage against the sandy seabed.

Species information

Statistics

Length: Up to 90 cm
Weight: Up to 4.5kg
Average Lifespan: Can live for more than 20 years

Conservation status

The undulate ray is listed as Endangered by the IUCN Red List and is a Priority Species under the UK Post-2010 Biodiversity Framework.

When to see

Present all year round

About

Undulate rays live on soft seabeds like sand and mud where they can bury themselves underneath the sediment. Instead of teeth, they have crushing plates which help them to feed on their diet of crustaceans.

Although it is commonly called the undulate ray, it is actually a species of skate (sometimes known as the undulate skate). Skates and rays are closely related and look similar, but you can spot the difference by looking at the tail. Skates have a short tail with small fins and no stinging capabilities, whereas rays have a long whip-like tail.

How to identify

The undulate ray is easily recognisable thanks to the dark wavy pattern on its back. Small spines run down the centre of the animal and along the whole tail.

In our area

Undulate rays are rarely seen around Northern Ireland due to the lack of recorded landings - the lack of data makes it difficult to pinpoint any Undulate ray populations. This species is more commonly seen towards the south of Ireland, centred mainly on Tralee Bay with more records southwards to Mizen Head and northward to the Aran Islands. 99% of all Undulate rays tagged in Ireland were from Tralee Bay!

Distribution

Found in the warmer waters around the south of Ireland and England.

Did you know?

The undulate skate lays eggs commonly called ‘mermaid’s purses’, which are made of keratin, the same material making our hair and nails. You can find empty egg cases along the shore that have been brought in by the tide.

How people can help

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.

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