THORN­BACK RAY

Kite-shaped with nu­mer­ous spikes, it’s an easy species to catch

Sea Angler (UK) - - Boat Angler -

the thorn­back ray, also oc­ca­sion­ally called a thorn­back skate, is one of the com­mon­est mem­bers of the Ra­ji­dae fam­ily. It is found through­out the coastal wa­ters of Europe, as well as the At­lantic coast of Africa, and pos­si­bly as far south as the shores of Namibia.

The body is kite-shaped with a long, thorny tail. Its back is cov­ered in nu­mer­ous thorny spines, as is the un­der­side in older fe­males. In sex­u­ally ma­ture fish, some of the spines are thick­ened with but­ton-like bases, which are known as buck­lers. These are par­tic­u­larly well de­vel­oped on the tails and backs of sex­u­ally ma­ture fe­males.

Colour varies widely de­pend­ing on lo­ca­tion, but typ­i­cally ranges from light brown to grey, with darker blotches and nu­mer­ous small darker spots and yel­low patches.

The diet of the thorn­back ray, which lives on mud, sand and gravel seabeds, con­sists of small crus­taceans, bot­tom-liv­ing shrimps, crabs and small fish.

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