Canadian Marine Life Encyclopedia
Also known as
Thorny back, thornback, maiden ray, starry ray, starry skate
North Atlantic; Northwest Atlantic from Greenland and Hudson Bay South Carolina
Special concern/data deficient
Order Rajiformes (skates & relatives); Family Rajidae (skates)
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Skates may look similar to flatfish, but they are actually much more closely related to sharks. Like sharks, a skate’s skeleton is made up of cartilage, which is softer and more flexible than bone. Skates commonly have small spines or modified scales on their bodies, but the thorny skate is aptly named because it is practically covered in these tiny thorny looking spines. They have a row of 10 to 20 large, conspicuous spines that run along their midline down their back and reaching their tail. They also have one large spine in front of and one behind each eye, large spines on each shoulder, and numerous smaller spines on their snout, pectoral fins and tail.