Abyssal Skate

Rajella bathyphila

Male abyssal skate (Rajella bathyphila) dorsal view
Male abyssal skate (Rajella bathyphila) dorsal view
Male abyssal skate (Rajella bathyphila) ventral view
Male abyssal skate (Rajella bathyphila) ventral view
Female abyssal skate (Rajella bathyphila) dorsal view
Female abyssal skate (Rajella bathyphila) dorsal view
Female abyssal skate (Rajella bathyphila) ventral view
Female abyssal skate (Rajella bathyphila) ventral view

Description

The abyssal skate - also known as the deepwater ray - is distinguished from other northwest Atlantic species by the distinctive light brown color of the dorsal side of its disc, and its whitish ventral surface. Some specimens have been found that are uniformly white on both the dorsal and ventral surfaces. There are no definite markings on the upper surface of the body, and spines are lacking on the snout.

Size

The abyssal skate reportedly reaches a maximum total length of 90.0cm TL.

Male (maturing) abyssal skate (Rajella bathyphila) dorsal view, showing an unusual 'ghost' colouration
Male (maturing) abyssal skate (Rajella bathyphila) dorsal view, showing an unusual 'ghost' colouration
Male (maturing) abyssal skate (Rajella bathyphila) ventral view, showing an unusual 'ghost' colouration
Male (maturing) abyssal skate (Rajella bathyphila) ventral view, showing an unusual 'ghost' colouration
Female (mature) abyssal skate (Rajella bathyphila) dorsal view, showing an unusual 'ghost' colouration
Female (mature) abyssal skate (Rajella bathyphila) dorsal view, showing an unusual 'ghost' colouration
Female (mature) abyssal skate (Rajella bathyphila) ventral view, showing an unusual 'ghost' colouration
Female (mature) abyssal skate (Rajella bathyphila) ventral view, showing an unusual "ghost" colouration

Range

The abyssal skate is reported to occur on both sides of the North Atlantic in deep water. In the eastern North Atlantic, specimens have been captured in Denmark-Strait, Rockall Trough along Ireland, the northern Bay of Biscay and Rio de Oro in Western Sahara, although it is possible that this species occurs throughout the area in very deep water. In the northwest Atlantic, this species occurs north of 45°N.

Habitat

The abyssal skate is a deepwater species inhabiting the lower parts of the continental slope and probably abyssal plains from depths of 600 to 2172 m, but occurring mainly in waters deeper than 1,400 m.

Female young of the year (YOY) abyssal skate (Rajella bathyphila) dorsal view
Female young of the year (YOY) abyssal skate (Rajella bathyphila) dorsal view

Life History

Unknown

Diet

Unknown

Reproduction

The abyssal skate is oviparous, laying presumably less than 100 eggs per year. Egg capsules have distinct, horn-like projections.