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Fish #34 Thornback Ray Raja clavata ~ Chris Ruston
Watercolour paper, Ink, Pen and Ink Drawing. Artist Book 22 x 18 cm (closed) 76 x 18cm (fully open)
Appearance: DarkBrown / Grey with light spots and yellow marbling. White underside with darker rim. Covered in thorns on its back and tail.
Max length: Female 130cm Male 105cm
Diet: Young feed on crab & shrimp, adults feed on crab, shrimp and fish.
Distribution: NE Atlantic and Mediterranean
Reproduction: Lays egg cases close to the shore. Egg cases are 50 - 90 mm and almost as wide.
Habitat: Live on the seabed at depths from 10 -300 metres. Prefer soft mud and sand.
Conservation Status: Red List - Near Threatened (likely to become threatened).
I found this wonderful description of rays in a second hand book - A History of the Earth and Animated Nature by Oliver Goldsmith, 1834. With the advent of publishing, curiosity about the natural world was beginning to be more accessible. One hundred and eighty years on, our focus turns to preserving these fragile environments!
Of Cartilaginous Flat-Fish or the Ray Kind
"The same rapacity which impels the shark along the surface of the water, actuates the flat fish at the bottom. Less active and less formidable they creep in security along the bottom, seize everything that comes in their way; neither the hardest shells nor the sharpest spines give protection to the animals that bear them; their insatiable hunger is such that they devour all. The whole of this kind resemble each other very strongly in their figure; nor is it easy without experience to distinguish one from another. The stranger to this dangerous tribe may imagine he is only handling a skate when he is instantly struck numb by the torpedo; he may suppose he has caught a thornback till he is stung by the fire-flare (stingray). The skate and thornback are very good food and their size, which is from 10lbs to 200 weight, very well rewards the trouble for fishing for them.
But it sometimes happens that the lines are visited by intruders, by the rough ray, the fire-flare or the torpedo. To all these the fisherman have the most mortal antipathy; and when discovered, shudder at the sight.: however they are not always so much upon their guard that they sometimes feel the different resentments of this angry tribe: and instead of a prize they find they have caught a vindictive enemy. When such is the case they take care to throw them back into the sea with the swiftest expedition..."
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