Eastern Atlantic: Rio de Oro, Western Sahara to South Africa.
A skate with a blunt, angular snout, a long, thick tail, and a broad flattened angular disc with wing-like pectoral fins. There are thorns on upper surface of disc and tail, and sometimes also on the underside of large individuals. Colour is brown to grey dorsally, with small to large black spots, whorls and blotches, and a larger eyespot at each pectoral fin base. The underside is plain white. Juveniles lack the dark dorsal spots. Attains 68cm width.
Habitat and behaviour
Oceanodromous marine demersal. Depth range shore to 800 m, usually 100 - 300 m but sometimes seen much shallower. Sandy or muddy bottoms. Found in shallow enclosed bays and on the continental slope. Feeds on invertebrates, bony fishes and fish offal. Oviparous: Eggs cases are dark brown and have horn-like projections on the shell. Migrates towards the coastal shallows during the warm season and towards deep waters in winter.
Importance to humans
Commercial and gamefish. Caught by shore and ski-boat anglers and by hake trawlers. Pectoral fins sold as 'skate wings' .
Etymology: Raja: Latin, raja, -ae = a sting ray; straeleni: Named after V. Van Straelen, director of IRSNB, Belgium.
- Froese, Rainer and Pauly, Daniel, eds. (2014). "Raja straeleni" in FishBase. March 2014 version.
- Branch, G.M., Branch, M.L, Griffiths, C.L. and Beckley, L.E. (2010). Two Oceans: a guide to the marine life of southern Africa Struik Nature, Cape Town. ISBN 978 1 77007 772 0
- Jones, Georgina. A field guide to the marine animals of the Cape Peninsula. SURG, Cape Town, 2008. ISBN 978-0-620-41639-9
- Media related to Raja straeleni at Wikimedia Commons
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