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Overview

Brief Summary

The spotted ray is named after the black spots on its back. With the exception of the small spines found on its 'face' and and the 50 spines in the middle of its back running to its tail, it is a very smooth ray. The facial spines on adult animals extend behind the eyes while on they are only found on the front part of the snout on young rays. Young spotted rays eat shrimp while older specimen eat larger crustaceans, worms and fish.
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Comprehensive Description

Biology

Found mainly along the continental shelf (Ref. 3167). Depth range from 8-283 m in the northeast Atlantic (Ref. 82399), in the southern part of its range it occurs down to 530 m (Ref. 78469, 89037), but most common between 20-120 m (Ref. 88187). Prefers habitats with sand or mud bottoms (Ref. 78469). Juveniles usually found in shallow sandy inshore areas, adults utilize more offshore sand or sand-gravel habitats (Ref. 82399, 89038). Species buries itself to avoid predation and ambush potential prey. Feeds mainly on crustaceans (Ref. 3167) with prey size increasing as it grows (Ref. 88171), also preys on benthic worms, cephalopods and small fishes (Ref. 41849, 58137). Most individuals attain a length of 40-60 cm (Ref. 3261). Oviparous. Young may tend to follow large objects, such as their mother (Ref. 205). Detects weak electric fields generated by other organisms and generate its own weak electric fields (Ref. 10311).
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Description

The spotted ray has a flattened, diamond-shaped body with broad wing-like pectoral fins and a long tail. There are small spines on the front edge of the disc in young fish, in adults these spines extend to behind the eyes. The posterior part of the disc is free of spines, apart from one central row of large spines which runs from the centre of the disc, along the tail to the first dorsal fin. Young fish also have rows of spines along the sides of the tail. The upper surface of the ray is usually yellow to pale brown with numerous dark brown-black spots which do not extend to the edges of the disc. Often there is an ocellus (eye-spot) on each wing. Adult fish can grow to 75cm in length. The spotted ray is similar in size and shape to the thornback ray (Raja clavata) however the latter has characteristic large spines with button-like bases scattered over its back.
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Distribution

Range Description

Widely distributed in the Northeast Atlantic, ranging from Morocco in the south to the Shetland Isles and Skagerrak and Kattegat in the north, including the Mediterranean Sea (Stehmann and Burkel 1984, Bauchot 1987). Within the Northeastern Atlantic it tends to occur in inshore waters and shallow shelf seas, in depths of 8 to 283 m (Ellis et al., 2005a), though it is most abundant in waters less than 100 m. Juveniles tend to occur closer inshore on sandy sediments, with adults also common further offshore on sand and coarse sand-gravel substrates.
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Eastern Atlantic: Shetlands, southern North Sea and the western Baltic to Mauritania, including the western part of the Mediterranean (to Tunisia and western Greece).
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Baltic Sea, North Sea, Mediterranean Sea, eastern Atlantic: Shetland Islands to Mauritania.
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This species is widespread all around the coasts of Britain and Ireland but appears to be absent from the east coast of England.
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Physical Description

Morphology

Dorsal spines (total): 0; Analspines: 0; Analsoft rays: 0
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Size

Maximum size: 800 mm TL
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Max. size

80.0 cm TL (male/unsexed; (Ref. 3261)); max. reported age: 18 years (Ref. 88187)
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Diagnostic Description

Sub-rhomboid in shape with a short rostrum and rounded wing-tips. Upper surface almost smooth in young, but prickly in large specimens, except for bare centers of pectoral fins and hind part of disc, underside nearly smooth; orbital thorns separate, a regular row of 20-50 usually persistent thorns from nape to first dorsal fin; with 1-2 thorns between dorsal fins; 2 equal-sized dorsal fins at end of tail. Brownish dorsally with numerous small dark spots which do not reach the margin of the disc, frequently with a concentration of dark spots forming a ring around a pale centre on hind part of each pectoral fin, underside white (Ref. 3167).
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Ecology

Habitat

Habitat and Ecology

Habitat and Ecology
Raja montagui is most common on sandy sediments in coastal and shelf seas (Ellis et al. 2005a), though may occur deeper in the southern parts of its range. Raja montagui is found at intermediate depths on the shallow shelf and was captured in the MEDITS surveys at depths between 28 to 530 m, but the bulk of the population appears to exist between 100 to 500 m (Baino et al. 2001). Adults have an average total length of 60 cm (Bauchot 1987), and the maximum recorded length is 80 cm (Ellis et al. 2005b). Maximum fecundity of approximately 60 to 70 (Holden et al. 1971, Walker 1999). Juveniles feed on small crustaceans (amphipods, natantids), with larger individuals predating on larger crustaceans, and fishes. Basic information on their reproductive biology is available, though better data on fecundity are required.

Systems
  • Marine
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Environment

demersal; marine; depth range 8 - 530 m (Ref. 88171)
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Depth range based on 9193 specimens in 1 taxon.
Water temperature and chemistry ranges based on 4291 samples.

Environmental ranges
  Depth range (m): -9 - 360
  Temperature range (°C): 6.812 - 18.646
  Nitrate (umol/L): 0.887 - 20.033
  Salinity (PPS): 33.487 - 38.781
  Oxygen (ml/l): 4.648 - 6.395
  Phosphate (umol/l): 0.151 - 1.544
  Silicate (umol/l): 0.987 - 12.020

Graphical representation

Depth range (m): -9 - 360

Temperature range (°C): 6.812 - 18.646

Nitrate (umol/L): 0.887 - 20.033

Salinity (PPS): 33.487 - 38.781

Oxygen (ml/l): 4.648 - 6.395

Phosphate (umol/l): 0.151 - 1.544

Silicate (umol/l): 0.987 - 12.020
 
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Depth: 0 - 100m.
Recorded at 100 meters.

Habitat: demersal. Found in shelf waters to about 100 m. Feeds mainly on crustaceans. Oviparous, egg-cases laid during summer. Regularly marketed.
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The spotted ray lives in sandy or muddy areas at depths between 25-120m. Juveniles feed on amphipods, isopods and shrimps whilst adults feed mainly on crabs.
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Life History and Behavior

Life Cycle

Oviparous. Distinct pairing with embrace. Paired eggs are laid during summer (Ref. 3167). Eggs are oblong capsules with stiff pointed horns at the corners deposited in sandy or muddy flats (Ref. 205). Egg capsules are 5.3-7.8 cm long and 3.0-5.0 cm wide (Ref. 41250). Fully formed pups hatch after about 5-6 months and are about 11-12 cm in length (Ref. 78469, 88187).
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Life Expectancy

Lifespan, longevity, and ageing

Observations: Estimates of age at sexual maturity range from 4.5 (Garcia et al. 2008) to 8 years (http://www.fishbase.org/). Maximum longevity has been reported as 7 years (Garcia et al. 2008), but this could be significantly underestimated.
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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Statistics of barcoding coverage: Raja montagui

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 4
Specimens with Barcodes: 87
Species With Barcodes: 1
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Barcode data: Raja montagui

The following is a representative barcode sequence, the centroid of all available sequences for this species.


No available public DNA sequences.

Download FASTA File
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Conservation

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List Assessment


Red List Category
LC
Least Concern

Red List Criteria

Version
3.1

Year Assessed
2007

Assessor/s
Ellis, J., Ungaro,N., Serena,F., Dulvy,N.,Tinti,F., Bertozzi, M., Pasolini, P., Mancusi,C. & Noarbartolo di Sciara, G.

Reviewer/s
Cavanagh, R.D., Kulka, D.W. & Valenti, S.V. (Shark Red List Authority)

Contributor/s

Justification
This small skate is widespread in the inshore waters and shallow shelf seas of the Northeast Atlantic and is common throughout the Mediterranean Sea, particularly in the east (Aegean Sea) and the western central area (coasts of Tyrrhenia, Corsica, Sardinia and Sicily). The bulk of the population appears to exist between 100 and 500 m in the Mediterranean. Populations of Raja montagui appear to be stable throughout its range despite being commonly landed in fisheries. Their small body size is likely to mean this species has greater resilience to fishing impacts compared to larger-bodied skate species. R. montagui is common in landings from fisheries and trawl surveys throughout much of the Northeast Atlantic and although accurate species-specific landings data are not available, catch rates in fishery-independent surveys indicate that catches are stable, possibly increasing in certain areas. It is also captured in trawl fisheries as bycatch in the Mediterranean and although temporal fluctuations of the abundance have occurred, populations appear to be stable in most parts of the Mediterranean. Therefore this species is assessed as Least Concern. Given intense trawling pressure within its range, future trends and bycatch levels should be closely monitored.
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Population

Population
No formal stock assessments have been undertaken for this species. R. monatgui is common in landings and trawl surveys throughout much of its range and although accurate species-specific landings data are not available catch rates in fishery-independent surveys indicate that catches are stable, possibly increasing in certain areas. Catch rates in beam trawl surveys in the English Channel and Irish Sea appear steady in recent times (Ellis et al. 2005b), and IBTS data in the North Sea are also relatively stable (ICES 2006). These catch rates refer to all individuals caught and not just mature fish. This species is common throughout the Mediterranean Sea, particularly in the eastern area (Aegean Sea) and the western central area (coasts of Tyrrhenia, Corsica, Sardinia and Sicily). The overall biomass index assessed with the Mediterranean International Trawl Surveys (MEDITS) (0 to 800 m deep) in the west, north and eastern Mediterranean was 1.7kg/km² (Baino et al. 2001). This species has been captured in 107 out of 6,336 survey tows between 1994 and 1999 and its estimated standing stock biomass throughout the survey region is 882 t (Baino et al. 2001). Historically this species was very rare in the Adriatic Sea (Jukic-Peladic et al. 2001, Marano et al. in press).

Population Trend
Stable
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Threats

Major Threats
Rajids are an important component of demersal fisheries in the Northeast Atlantic and R. montagui is landed and sold (Dulvy et al. 2000, Holden 1977). As one of the smaller rays in the Northeast Atlantic, it is not targeted, though larger individuals are landed as by-catch in mixed trawl fisheries. The small body size of R. montagui is likely to mean they have greater resilience fishing impacts compared to larger-bodied skate species. The Mediterranean Sea is intensively trawled for commercial fishing at depths ranging from 50 to 700 m (Colloca et al. 2003). R. montagui is captured in Mediterranean trawl fisheries as bycatch and although temporal fluctuations of the abundance have occurred, populations appear to be stable in most parts of the Mediterranean (Relini et al. 2000).
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Least Concern (LC)
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Management

Conservation Actions

Conservation Actions
There is a minimum landing size of 40 cm disc width for skates and rays caught in some of the inshore waters of England and Wales, through local Sea Fishery Committee bylaws. Though there are no species-specific management measures for this species, there is a TAC for skates and rays in the North Sea and adjacent waters, and they may benefit from more generic management measures for demersal fisheries (e.g., size restriction, effort reduction).
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Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems

Benefits

Importance

fisheries: minor commercial; price category: medium; price reliability: reliable: based on ex-vessel price for this species
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