Shorttail, or Jensen's, Skate

Amblyraja jenseni

Male shorttail (or jensen's) skate (Amblyraja jenseni) dorsal view
Male shorttail (or jensen's) skate (Amblyraja jenseni) dorsal view
Male shorttail (or jensen's) skate (Amblyraja jenseni) ventral view
Male shorttail (or jensen's) skate (Amblyraja jenseni) ventral view
Female shorttail (or jensen's) skate (Amblyraja jenseni) dorsal view
Female shorttail (or jensen's) skate (Amblyraja jenseni) dorsal view
Female shorttail (or jensen's) skate (Amblyraja jenseni) ventral view
Female shorttail (or jensen's) skate (Amblyraja jenseni) ventral view

Description

The shorttail skate - also known as Jensen's skate - is recognizable by its relatively short tail; the number of rows of sharp teeth in each of its jaws (56 - 66 rows); and its thorn-like spine pattern. Specifically, the shorttail skate has a median row of 24 - 31 large spines beginning at the nuchal region (or the nape of the neck) and continuing to first dorsal. Approaching and onto the tail, the thorns become smaller and more crowded. Other spines include 2 - 4 large spines on each shoulder, 1 large spine on the inner side of each spiracle, and 2 - 3 spines along the inner margin of each eye. Thorns are lacking on the anterior margins and mid-posterior parts of the pectorals, and on either side of the mid-dorsal ridge. Smaller, younger specimens have small spines on the ridge between the eyes and snout, which are lost in older individuals. The ventral surface of the shorttail skate is smooth. Two, slightly separated dorsal fins are located near the tip of the tail. The caudal fin is low, and the pelvics are deeply concave. Shortail skates are light grayish brown dorsally - with the margins of their fins being slightly darker - and white or yellowish to gray ventrally.

Size

The shorttail skate reaches a maximum size of approximately 74.3 cm TL (male) or 85 cm TL (female).

Range

This species is only reported occasionally in northwest Atlantic waters, with captures occurring from Halifax , NS and Georges Bank southward to off New England. It also occurs in Icelandic waters.

Habitat

The shorttail skate is a deepwater or bathydemersal species occurring from 336 - 840 m based on records from the Canadian Atlantic; and from 1907 - 2294 m based on records from off Georges Bank and southern New England, where it was captured in water temperatures between 3 - 4°C.

Life History

Unknown

Diet

The diet of this species has not yet been fully described; however, it is presumed to feed predominantly on free-swimming crustaceans and small fishes. A redfish was found in the stomach of one specimen taken on the Grand Bank.

Reproduction

Oviparous. Fecundity is assumed to be less than 100 individuals. For a look at the egg capsules of the shorttail skate, click on the link Identification of NW Atlantic Skate Egg Capsules

Close-up of the claspers and underside of the tail of a shorttail (or Jensen's) skate (Amblyraja jenseni)
Close-up of the claspers and underside of the tail of a shorttail (or Jensen's) skate (Amblyraja jenseni)
Female young of the year (YOY) shorttail or Jensen's skate (Amblyraja jenseni)
Female young of the year (YOY) shorttail or Jensen's skate (Amblyraja jenseni)