Featured Elasmobranch- Sea of Cortez skate

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Featured Elasmobranch- Sea of Cortez skate

July 2011

Sea of Cortez Skate

Raja cortezensis (McEachren and Miyake 1988)

Family Rajidae

Identification: The dorsal surface of this skate is brown, with a lighter brown near the rostrum. The center of the disc is faintly freckled with small dark brown spots. The ventral surface is light tan, except for the tail, which is light brown. This species differs from Raja inornata, the California skate, in maturing at a smaller size, having a smaller snout, and having fewer predorsal tail vertebrae. Also, it has less tooth rows in the upper jaw and differing features of the neurocranium, scapuloracoid, and clasper.

Size: The maximum total length is 38.5cm.

Distribution: This species is only known from central and southern Gulf of California. It co-occurs with a disjunct population of Raja inornata, the California skate in the area. California skates from this area are morphologically distinct from other skates that occur from the Strait of Juan de Fuca in Washington to central Baja.

Habitat: This benthic skate can be found on the inner part of the continental shelf in subtropical waters.

Biology: Males mature around 34cm.

General interest: This is a poorly known skate that is potentially taken as bycatch of trawl and other demersal fisheries.


By Jennifer Bigman
Pacific Shark Research Center
Moss Landing Marine Laboratories
8272 Moss Landing Road, Moss Landing, CA 95039