Channel Islands Harbor | Skates Or Stingrays Here In Seabridge Marina?

Editor’s Note:  In this article we explore some of the wonders of nature right here in Ventura County.

By Steph Bond

Skates, stingrays, and even sharks all belong to the same class of fish, chondrichthyes. This type of fish has a skeleton that is made mainly of cartilage.1
Skates and stingrays are both flat, greyish in color, and have gills and mouths on the underside of their bodies and will camouflage themselves from danger by burying their bodies in the sand. They are both bottom dwellers, meaning they are found on the ocean floor.2

A single Ray in Channel Islands Harbor

The tail is one way of how you can tell the difference between skates and stingrays. Stingrays have the ability to sting, through a stinging barb found on their tail. Skates do not have a stinging barb anywhere. They do, however, have spikey thorn-like structure along the back. Skates pelvic fins have two lobes which are closest to their tails and are different than a stingray that has only one lobe.3
Skates and stingrays reproduce differently. Stingrays give birth to live offspring whereas skates lay eggs. Skate eggs are black and rectangular with arm-like extensions, referred to as mermaid purses.
So are these the Round Stingray (Urobatis halleri)? They appear to have a “slender tail and a pectoral disc that is very round in shape and do not have dorsal fins. Round rays like warm water and they are very abundant among other stingrays of the same size. Round ray stingrays are mostly brown in color and sometimes have a spotted / mottled look and their undersides are an orangish-white color. The round rays make up the Urotrygonidae stingray family.”4

A cluster of rays in Channel Islands Harbor

Females generally inhabit the deeper portion of their habitat, moving into the shallow water areas only during the breeding season. One to six pups are born live. The number of offspring depends on the size of the mother; larger females have more pups. The newborn vary in disk width from 6.3-8.0 cm (2.5-3.1 in). They are miniatures of the adults and independent at birth.5

 

References:

[1] https://www.americanoceans.org/facts/skate-vs-stingray/

[2] https://nayturr.com/types-of-stingrays/

[3] https://www.aquariumofpacific.org/onlinelearningcenter/species/round_stingray

 

Stephanie Bond is resident of Oxnard. An avid nature lover and contributor to Citizens Journal.


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D. Pringle

Thanks Mark and Stephanie!!