Chocolate or Bigelow's Skate

Rajella bigelowi

Male chocolate or Bigelow's skate (Rajella bigelowi) dorsal view
Male chocolate or Bigelow's skate (Rajella bigelowi) dorsal view
Male chocolate or Bigelow's skate (Rajella bigelowi) ventral view
Male chocolate or Bigelow's skate (Rajella bigelowi) ventral view
Female chocolate or Bigelow's skate (Rajella bigelowi) dorsal view
Female chocolate or Bigelow's skate (Rajella bigelowi) dorsal view
Female chocolate or Bigelow's skate (Rajella bigelowi) ventral view
Female chocolate or Bigelow's skate (Rajella bigelowi) ventral view

Description

The chocolate skate - also known as Bigelow's skate - is easily confused with the abyssal skate (Rajella bathyphila). Both species are uniformly dark on the dorsal surface, with the outer edges of the disc and pelvic fins shading to a slightly darker colour in the chocolate skate. The chocolate skate is distinguished by its dark ventral surface and small spines on its snout, which are never present in the abyssal skate.

Size

The chocolate skate reportedly reaches a maximum total length of approximately 55.0cm TL.

Range

The chocolate skate is a relatively wide-ranging species, occurring on both sides of the North Atlantic in deep water. In the eastern North Atlantic, specimens have been captured in the Rockall Trough along Ireland, the northern Bay of Biscay, northern Morocco and Azores, off Rio de Oro (Western Sahara), and Conakry (Guinea). In the northwest Atlantic, this species occurs on the Grand Banks off NewFoundland southward to the northeastern Gulf of Mexico. In deep water, the distribution of this species is probably much wider.

Habitat

The chocolate skate is a deepwater species inhabiting the lower parts of the continental slope and deepwater rises from depths of 650 - 4156 m.

Life History

Unknown

Diet

Unknown

Reproduction

The chocolate skate is oviparous, laying presumably less than 100 eggs per year. Egg are oblong capsules with distinct, stiff, horn-like projections at the corners. Egg capsules are 5.3 cm long and 3.0 cm wide.

Male young of the year (YOY) chocolate or Bigelow's skate (Rajella bigelowi) dorsal view
Male young of the year (YOY) chocolate or Bigelow's skate (Rajella bigelowi) dorsal view
A live juvenile male chocolate or Bigelow's skate (Rajella bigelowi) dorsal view
A live juvenile male chocolate or Bigelow's skate (Rajella bigelowi) dorsal view