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Bottomfish Identification: Sharks, Skates and Ratfishes

Longnose Skate
Raja rhina

Commonly caught in the commercial fishery off the Washington coast with otter-trawls, longline, and jig handline gear. Caught incidentally by recreational harvesters off the outer Washington coast and in Puget Sound. 

Description: The longnose skate has an extremely long and acutely pointed snout. The pectoral fins join the snout to form the body.  The leading edge of the pectoral fins curves inward (concave) away from a line drawn between the tip of the snout and the tip of the fin. The dorsal surface is uniformly brown, bluish or grey with a simple dark ring at the base of each pectoral fin, and there may be a light spot posterior to the ring.  The mostly smooth ventral surface is usually muddy blue with small brown flecks on the anterior part.  The longnose skate has a row of about 20 sharp mid-dorsal spines that run from the base of the tail to the space between the dorsal spines, where there may be an additional spine. One or two mid-dorsal spines are found immediately behind the eyes. This species also has a sparse, discontinuous row of spines around the inner edge of the orbit. The dorsal fins are small and well back on the tail and the caudal fin is reduced to a low ridge. The longnose skate lacks an anal fin and has pelvic fins that are acutely and very deeply incised (notched).  They also have a fleshy lateral ridge on each side of the tail. 

Maximum Size: To 145 cm (4.8 ft) in length, males generally smaller than females.

Maximum Age: 26 years old for females.

Range/Habitat: This species ranges from Navarin Canyon in the Bering Sea and Unalaska Island, Alaska to Cedros Island, Baja California, Mexico.  Longnose skate are found on the bottom at water depths from 55 to 1,000 m (180-3,280 ft).


  • Ebert, D. A., 2003. Sharks, rays, and chimaeras of California (No. 71). Univ. of California Press.
  • Ebert, D.A., W.D. Smith and G.M. Cailliet, 2008.  Reproductive biology of two commercially exploited skates, Raja binoculata and R. rhina, in the western Gulf of Alaska. Fisheries Research, 94(1), 48-57.
  • Eschmeyer, W.N., E.S. Herald and H. Hammann, 1983. A field guide to Pacific coast fishes of North America. Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston, U.S.A. 336 p.
  • Hart, J.L., 1973. Pacific fishes of Canada. Bull. Fish. Res. Board Can. 180:740 p.
  • McFarlane, G.A., and  J.R. King,  2006. Age and growth of big skate (Raja binoculata) and longnose skate (Raja rhina) in British Columbia waters. Fisheries Research 78: 169-178.

Photos: S. Axtell, E. Wright and WDFW