Skates in the Gulf of Maine

Monday, February 26, 2018 by Jessica

When most people from Maine think of skates, they think of what you use to move around on ice, but skates are also a type of fish! Skates are a type of cartilaginous fish, which means that instead of having skeletons made of bones, they are made of tough, flexible cartilage. They have flat, rounded bodies and wing-like pectoral fins attached to their heads. Skates look very similar to stingrays, but don’t have the venomous stinging barbs on their tails. Instead, they can have rows of spikes along their bodies for protection. They generally live on the bottom of the ocean, and the shape of their bodies make it so that they can easily bury themselves in the sand. They have many adaptations that make it easier to live on the bottom of the ocean, such as having their eyes on the top of their bodies. When they aren’t buried in the sand, they can swim by performing a flapping-like movement of their pectoral fins. Skates eat mollusks, crustaceans, and fish, and catch these foods by dropping down on it from above and trapping it. To reproduce, skates lay eggs that are often known as mermaid purses. You can sometimes find them along the beach.

There are lots of different species of skates, but in the Gulf of Maine, there are five different skate species that we often see; little skates, winter skates, smooth skates, thorny skates, and barndoor skates. Skates are edible, and are often fished for, but some of them are protected because they are threatened by overfishing. Skates have slow growth grates, and since they mature late, low reproductive rates. This makes them vulnerable to overfishing and for their populations to be more easily reduced. The barndoor skate is protected in Gulf of Maine waters. Did you know that there were fish that had cartilage skeletons instead of bones? If you want to learn more about skates, click on the links below!

Skates in the Gulf of Maine


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