Common skate (Dipturus batis)
The common skate is the largest skate in the world, reaching a length of 285cm. It is a greyish to brown in colour on its upper surface, with a long and pointed snout and 12-18 thorns along its tail. Common skate inhabit depths of 100-1000m, where they feed on the benthic animals on the seabed, such as worms, molluscs, crustaceans and small fish. The common skate is oviparous, with females laying about 40 eggs per year.
In recent years, biologists have proposed reclassifying the common skate (Dipturus batis) by splitting it into two separate but closely related species: the blue skate (Dipturus flossada) and the flapper skate (Dipturus intermedius).
The conservation status of the common skate is listed as critically endangered on the Irish Red List for cartilaginous fish and by the IUCN Red List. Historically, the common skate was one of the most abundant and widespread skates in the Northeast Atlantic, but it is now locally extinct in inshore waters throughout its range due to its vulnerability to commercial trawling.
The Marine Sportfish Tagging Programme tagged 1,159 common skates between 1972 and 2014 off the coast of Ireland, with 88% of taggings in the vicinity of just five sites: Clew Bay, Baltimore, Courtmacsherry, Ballycastle Bay and Tralee Bay. The programme has shown that 89% of recaptures of tagged fish occur close to their original tagging locations.