Featured Elasmobranch – Velez Ray

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Featured Elasmobranch – Velez Ray

Copyright: Andy Murch/ www.elasmodiver.com

Velez Ray or Rasptail Skate

Raja velezi Chirichingo, 1973

Family Rajidae

Identification: Disc width is about 1.3 times total length, and the snout is pointed. Disc anterior margin of females is relatively straight, while in adult males it is distinctly concave.  A patch of thorns is present on each side of the snout, level with the eyes.  A central median line of thorns extends from behind eyes to tail.  The tail has additional rows of thorns on each side running from base to tip.  Coloration is medium to dark brown, with one prominent ocellated spot on each wing.

Size: Maximum size is 76.5 cm total length.

Distribution: This species occurs in the eastern central and southeast Pacific.  It is found from the Gulf of California south to Peru, including the Galapagos Islands off Ecuador.

Habitat: Found on sandy or gravel substrates, at depths of 35 to 140 meters.

Biology: Exhibits oviparous reproductive mode, like other skates, but nothing is known about its reproductive cycle or size at maturity.  This skate consumes small fishes and decapods, especially shrimps.

General Interest: Very little is known about this species.  It is captured as bycatch in Colombian shrimp trawl fisheries, and probably other demersal fisheries throughout its range.  There are no conservation actions in place, and more research needs to be done on its taxonomy, biology, population, and threats.

By:  Kelley Andrews

Pacific Shark Research Center

Moss Landing Marine Laboratories.