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Fish #38 Common Skate Dipturus batis ~ Jane Rushby
I'd love to be able to tell you that I chose this fish because it was my
father in law's favourite to eat, and as it happens he died during the
period I was crocheting; indeed, I spent many hours crocheting at his home
and in the hospice while my husband and mother in law cared for him in his
last days and hours. However, the honest truth is that it was one of the few
available fish I had actually heard of, and I liked its spots!
As it happens, research published fairly recently (2009 and 2010) shows that the species Dipturus Batis is actually two separate fish, the smaller southern flossada (blue skate) and the larger northern intermedius (flapper skate). The large fish is the largest skate in the world, reaching a length of over 9 feet.
At the beginning of the C20 the fish was plentiful in the waters around the British Isles, where it was predominantly found at depths of 100-200m, as a bottom dwelling species, although it can occur as shallow as 30m and as deep as 1000m, such as along the edge of the continental shelf. It was reported by the Guardian in 2002 that the common skate is 'commercially extinct' however the thrust of the concern seemed to focus on the implications of this for stocks of other fish more popular for the table such as cod, herring and whiting which are also depleted owing to unsustainable fishing practices. The species was noted as 'critically endangered' in 2006 and its previous abundance in the northeast Atlantic and Mediterranean sea has been severely compromised and depleted.
The skate can live for 50-100 years, when they reach maturity they mate in the spring and females lay approximately 40 egg cases in sandy or muddy flats and the eggs develop for 2-5 months before hatching. When hatched, juveniles measure up to 9 inchers long, so it seems I have inadvertently crocheted a baby skate!
The common skate is a bottom feeder, its diet includes crustaceans, clams, oysters, snails, and small to medium-sized fish, including other skates! Some skates ascend the sea to feed on mackerel or herring. The skate could at first glance be rather a boring grey fish, however, on closer examination it features a range of blotches, spines, thorns and spots. I've employed artistic licence clearly, when depicting my baby skate, as well as in my interpretation of the North Sea.
Fish #38A Common Skate Dipturus batis ~ Amanda M Whispell
Acrylic 30 x 30 x 3 cm
Dipturus batis (Linnaeus, 1756)
Common names: Common Skate, Blue Skate, Flapper Skate, Grey Skate
Chordata: Chondrichthyes: Rajiformes: Fajidae
Dipturus batis is the largest skate in the world, attaining lengths of up to 2.85 m (Stehmann 1990), with a range that covers much of the continental shelf of the Northeast Atlantic. It is found in benthic habitats of both shallow and deep waters where it primarily preys on crustaceans and tealost fish (Muus & Nielsen 1999). It has oviparous reproduction, producing large egg cases, which they deposit in the Mediterranean and Northeast Atlantic in the spring and summer (Clark 1922; Wheeler 1969).
Historically, D. batis was one of the most abundant skates in the North Atlantic (Froese 2017), but it is now considered scarce throughout much of its range (Stehmann & Bürkel 1984). It was first listed as Endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) in 2000 and has been listed as Critically Endangered on the IUCN Red List since 2006 (Dulvy et al. 2018). D. batis is now considered extirpated from the Adriatic Sea (Tintl et al. 2003), the Irish Sea (Brander 1981), the English Channel (Walker 1999), and the Central North Sea (Rogers & Ellis 2000). The greatest threat for D. batis populations comes from the commercial fishing industry (Dulvy et al. 2018). Individuals are taken as intentional and unintentional catch by commercial fisheries, as it is often landed as both a targeted species and as bycatch throughout its range (Dulvy et al. 2018). In 2016 ICES has assessed D. batis as depleted and listed the current allowable catch at zero. The common skate is now protected within the European Union, making it illegal for commercial fishers to actively target the species or keep individuals that are accidentally landed as bycatch (ICES 2016)
Brander K. 1981. Disappearance of Common skate Raia batis from Irish Sea. Nature 290: 48-49.
Clark RS. 1922. Skates and rays (Raiae) No.1. Egg capsules and young. Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom 12: 577-643.
Dulvy NK, Notarbartolo di Sciara G, Serena F, Tinti F, Ungaro N, Mancusi C, Ellis J. 2006. Dipturus batis. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2006: e.T39397A10198950. http://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2006.RLTS.T39397A10198950.en. Downloaded on 24 July 2018.
Froese R, Pauly D, eds. 2017. "Dipturus batis" in FishBase. January 2017 version.
ICES (11 October 2016)5.3.12 Common skate (Dipturus batis-complex (blue skate (Dipturus batis) and flapper skate (Dipturus cf. intermedia)) in subareas 6–7 (excluding Division 7.d) (Celtic Seas and western English Channel). ICES Advice 2016, Book 5.
Muus BJ, Nielsen JG. 1999. Sea fish. Scandinavian Fishing Year Book, Hedehusene, Denmark. 340 p.
Rogers SI, Ellis JR. 2000. Changes in the demersal fish assemblages of British coastal waters during the 20th century. ICES Journal of Marine Science 57: 866-881.
Stehmann M, Bürkel DL. 1984. Rajidae. In: PJP Whitehead, ML Bauchot, JC Hureau, J Nielsen & E Tortonese (eds) Fishes of the North-eastern Atlantic and Mediterranean. Vol. 1. pp: 163-196. UNESCO, Paris.
Stehmann M, 1990. Rajidae. p. 29-50. In JC Quero, JC Hureau, C Karrer, A Post and L Saldanha (eds.) Check-list of the fishes of the eastern tropical Atlantic. Junta Nacional de Investigaçao Cientifica e Tecnológica, Lisbon, Portugal. Vol. 1.
Tinti F, Ungaro N, Pasolini P, De Panfilis M, Garoia F, Guarniero I, Sabelli B, Marano G, Piccinetti C. 2003. Development of molecular and morphological markers to improve species-specific monitoring and systematics of Northeast Atlantic and Mediterranean skates (Rajiformes). Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology288: 149-165.
Walker PA. 1999. Fleeting images: Dynamics of North Sea ray populations. University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam.
Wheeler A. 1969. The fishes of the British Isles and North-west Europe. Macmillan, London.
Fish #38B Common Skate Dipturus batis ~ Tristan Lathey
Earthenware glazed with coloured slip 20 x 32 x 5 cm
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