Field Guide - Alaska Skate

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adult - female
Female Alaska skate
NOAA Alaska Fisheries Science Center
Male Alaska skate
Alaska skate egg case (Max. size 107 by 140 cm)

Alaska Skate

Bathyraja parmifera

Number of Confirmed Sightings: 0

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Chondrichthyes
Order: Rajiformes
Family: Rajidae
Genus: Bathyraja
Species: parmifera

Description: The Alaska skate is potentially the most common skate in Alaska. It can be found mainly in the Bering Sea but also off the coast of the Gulf of Alaska and the eastern Aleutian Islands in depths of 17 to 392 meters. It trolls the ocean floor for food and hides from predators in the sand.

Population status: Data are unavailable for this species, but surveys indicate that, in general, skate populations in Alaskan waters have recently been increasing.

General characteristics: Similar in appearance to a stingray, can be up to 135 cm in length, dark brown or golden brown in color with light blotchy spots on back and a white to brown belly, and patchy areas of tooth-like scales called denticles on back.

Female defining traits: Lacks claspers near tail base.

Male defining traits: Has two claspers at tail base used to transfer sperm.

Juvenile defining traits: Smaller, denticles more evenly distributed on back than in adults.

Diet in the wild: Fish, octopus, worms, and crustaceans.

Reproductive cycle: Migrate to nursery locations to mate and deposit egg cases which take over three years to hatch.

Predators in the wild: Marine mammals including sperm whales eat adults, fish eat the juveniles, and gastropods consume the contents of egg cases.

Similar species: Bering and Aleutian skates.