Shorefishes of the Greater Caribbean online information system

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Species: Rajella bigelowi, Abyssal Skate, Bigelow's Skate

All Families:   All Genera:   All Species:

disc ~rhomboidal/rounded
snout short to medium, tip stiff
eyes + semicircle of thorns
center disc: row thorns shoulder to C
nape thorns in triangle
top disc & tail : denticles coarse, not dense
top dark/light grey, bottom darker
tail thorn rows: central & side
tail 60% TL

Rajella bigelowi (Stehmann, 1978)

Abyssal Skate, Bigelow's Skate

Disc heart shaped, front edges ~straight in female, sinuous in male, the outer corners broadly rounded; pectorals fused to disc from head back to insertion of pelvic fins, their skeletal supports end distinctly before tip of snout; snout bluntly angular, stiff; rostral cartilage solid and stiff to tip of snout; tail with moderately narrow base, long, gradually tapering, length 60% TL, with narrow side folds on rear ¼, dorsal fins low, small, confluent, tail fin small, separate from 2nd dorsal; pelvic fins consist of 2 lobes completely separated by a notch; thorns: usually a patch of small thorns on tip of snout, in a half ring around inner edges of eyes, a large triangular patch of 10-20 large thorns on nape & shoulders, a row of 26-33 along center of back from nape to 1st dorsal fin, with 1-2 parallel rows of ~30 thorns alongside that on rear of body and tail; upper surface of disc & tail completely covered with coarse denticles, except a bare patch on center of each pectoral of males, lower surface: disc free of denticles, tail with broad bands along edges, a naked strip along center.

Top surface uniformly dark- to light grey, with center of back lighter, young fish may be limy white; lower surface darker than top, with tail lighter.

Reaches 55 cm.

Lives on soft bottoms

Depth range 367-4156 m, usually below 1500 m.

Both sides of the north Atlantic; Canada south, a few records off S Florida and the NE Gulf of Mexico.

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  • Marine
  • Marine Only
  • Offshore
  • Offshore Only
Water Column Position
  • Bottom
  • Bottom only
  • Soft bottom (mud/sand/gravel/beach/estuary/mangrove/seagrass)
FishBase Habitat
  • Bathydemersal
Feeding Group
  • Carnivore
  • Data
  • Data
  • Mobile benthic crustacea (shrimps/crabs)
  • Mobile benthic worms
  • Octopus/squid/cuttlefish
Egg Type
  • Benthic
  • Data
  • No pelagic larva
  • No pelagic phase
Global Endemism
  • All species
  • Greater Caribbean non-endemic
  • Transatlantic (East+West Atlantic)
Regional Endemism
  • Continent
  • Continent only
  • Extends North of GC
  • GC non-endemic
  • All species
  • Resident
Climate Zone
  • Subtropical (23-35N, Florida / Carolinas / Bermuda)
  • Temperate (>35N)
IUCN Red List
  • Least concern
  • Listed
  • Not listed
Length Max
  • 55
Depth Range Min
  • 367
Depth Range Max
  • 4156