California skate (Beringraja inornata)

Photo not available for this species
Category: Fish
Related species groups: Sharks, skates, and ratfish

Caught incidentally 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 northern Puget Sound.

Description and Range

Physical description

The flat body of the California skate is in a rhombic shape because their large pectoral fins extend from the snout to the bases of their tails. They are generally olive-brown above, sometimes with dark mottling and occasionally 2 dark rings or eyespots, and tan below. They have a moderately long and acutely pointed snout that is the product of a projection of cartilage. This species has deeply notched pelvic fins. They have no orbital or scapular spines but have middorsal spines on the tail, and sometimes over the pelvic fins and at the midback. The slightly concave body is otherwise smooth except for scattered small denticles (scales). This skate has a smooth undersurface.

California skates can grow up to 76 cm (2.5 ft) in length.

Geographic range

California skates range from the Strait of Juan de Fuca, Washington to central Baja, California. They are common inshore and in shallow bays, but can be found at depths up to 671 m (2,200 ft).