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the web of life in southern Africa

Amblyraja radiata (Thorny skate)

(Meisner, 1987)

Life > Eukaryotes > Opisthokonta > Metazoa (animals) > Bilateria > Deuterostomia > Chordata > Craniata > Vertebrata (vertebrates)  > Gnathostomata (jawed vertebrates) > Chondrichthyes > Elasmobranchii > Batoidei > Rajoidei > Rajidae

Amblyraja radiata (Thorny skate) [[Illustration by Ann Hecht ]


An extremely rough skate with a stiff, bluntly triangular snout, tail shorter than body, and upper disk covered by close-set large thorns with star-shaped bases. Colour grey-brown above, with a few small black spots, front lobes of pelvics with black blotches; underside of disk white with dark spots and blotches on tail and pelvic fins.


To 62 cm TL and 48 cm DW in the area, to 1 m TL elsewhere.


West coast off Cape Town; elsewhere wide-ranging in cold temperate waters of the North Atlantic, from Canada (Nova Scotia) to the English Channel.



In the area, upper slope on the bottom at 548 to 640 m. Elsewhere from 20 to 1000 m depth.


Unknown in the area; rare here with only two specimens recorded. Common in the North Atlantic, where it eats crustaceans, small fishes, and polychaete worms.

Human Impact

Probably caught by hake trawlers.

Text by Leonard J.V. Compagno, David A. Ebert and Malcolm J. Smale