Reproductive Studies

PSRC researchers processing skate samples

Knowledge of the reproductive biology of most ENP sharks and rays is either unknown or extremely limited. Information on reproductive biology, including size-at-first-maturity and fecundity, is crucial for sound management decisions. The skates (Family: Arhynchobatidae and Rajidae) are very poorly known taxonomically and as a consequence, information on their reproductive biology is nearly non-existent. Of more than 20 species known to inhabit the waters of the ENP, limited information exists on only two, the big skate (Raja binoculata) and the longnose skate (Raja rhina). To increase our knowledge of the reproductive biology of ENP chondrichthyans, the PSRC in collaboration with the NMFS Alaska Fisheries Science Center, Northwest Fisheries Science Center, and Southwest Fisheries Science Center Santa Cruz Laboratory, are collecting and examining reproductive tracts of sharks and rays taken during research cruises in the Bering Sea and off the California, Oregon, and Washington coasts. Maturity status and reproductive condition are currently being assessed for several skate and catshark species in an effort to determine size-at-maturity, fecundity, and timing of reproductive events.