Language English Photo: Biodôme de Montréal (Jesse Bouffard) Photo: Biodôme OngletsDescriptionDistinguishing featuresThe tail of the thorny skate has two small dorsal fins. The ventral side is white and the dorsal side brown with dark spots. It has spines on the head and pectoral fins, as well as on a line from the shoulder to the tip of the tail. Its mouth is on the ventral side. ReproductionThe female reaches sexual maturity once she is 40 cm long. Fertilization is internal. Depending on her size, the female lays 6 to 40 eggs, each of which is enclosed in a capsule (ootheca). She releases 2 eggs at a time. DietThorny skates eat crabs, shrimp and smaller crustaceans (amphipods, isopods, mysids). They also eat worms, small fish, squid and sometimes anemones. These carnivorous fish do not attack directly, but trap their prey by dropping down on it from above. PredatorsLittle is known about their predators. They may occasionally be eaten by grey seals. The egg capsules are eaten by halibut and sharks. This species of skates are fished commercially. HabitatThorny skates live in cold salt water, at temperatures ranging from 0 to 10°C. They frequent gravel, sand or mud bottoms, at depths of 20 to 550 metres. The largest concentrations of thorny skates are found in the upper parts of the continental shelf. Ecology, behaviourTheir flattened shape, the colour of their bodies, the dorsal position of their eyes and the holes (spiracles) behind their eyes for breathing are all ways in which these fish have adapted to life on the ocean floor.They are also able to bury themselves in sediment to hide from predators.Since the ban on its fishing in Canada in 2005, it has been fished in the international waters of the Grand Banks of Newfoundland. Skate wings are the most highly sought by gourmets. French nameRaie épineuse Scientific nameAmblyraja radiataPhylumChordataClassChondrichthyes (cartilaginous fish)OrderRajiformesFamilyRajidaeSizeLength: 100 to 110 cmWeightMaximum: 4.2 kgLife span20 yearsStatusVulnerable (IUCN - 2004).