Round ray, Rajella fyllae
The round ray is named after the rounded shape of its body, its half-moon shaped head and its small rounded pelvic fins. It is distinguished from the winter skate by the presence of white spots between the eyes and on its dorsal surface and by a longer tail. Body coloration varies from grey to chocolate brown, with a pattern of paler markings which differs from the winter skate who possess dark brown spots (ocellus). The underside is pale. This skate has a length of about 60 cm, and 3 to 5 rows of curved spines from the middle of the body to the tip of the tail. More spines can be observed distributed in an irregular pattern over the rest of the body.
The pelvic fins are bilobed, the anterior lobe used as a walking or punting device which the skate uses to move upon the seafloor. This is common to all skates of the family Rajidae.
Lookalike species Round ray :
This fish is a bottom dweller who prefers cold waters (less than 7 degrees celcius) and can be found at depths varying from 170 to 2050 m, but usually stays around 300 to 800 m.
Natural history :
This skate feeds on bottom dwelling animals with a preference for invertebrates such as copepods, amphipods and mysids.
Members of the Rajidae family, including the round ray, are oviparous, laying eggcases ressembling small rectangular bags (hence their nickname of mermaid’s purses) with hooks at each ends. These eggcases measure 3.8-4.2 cm long with a width of 2.4-2.6 cm.
The round skate is not a species common in the estuary and golf of St-Lawrence. It is occasionally found in the North Western Atlantic (from Greenland to Nova Scotia and George’s banc), but is more commonly found in the North Eastern Atlantic, along the southern coast of Norway and Greenland, Iceland, Faeroe and Shetland islands, and of the western coast of great Britain and the in bay of Biscay.
This species is an accidental catch in commercial fisheries of benthic fishes and poses no threat to humans.
Bibliography and references :
Gouvernement du Canada. 2007. Plan d’action national pour la
conservation et la gestion des requins. Direction générale des communications Pêches et Océans Canada,Ottawa (Ontario), 30 pages.
Nozères, C., Archambault, D., Chouinard, P.-M., Gauthier, J., Miller, R.,
Parent, E., Schwab, P., Savard, L. et J.-D. 2010. Guide d’identification des poisons marins de l’estuaire et du nord du golfe du Saint- Laurent et protocoles suivis pour leur échantillonnage lors des relevés par chalut entre 2004 et 2008 Direction régionale des Sciences, Pêches et Océans Canada, 157 pages.
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