PORT PHILLIP BAY


Melbourne Skate 

Spiniraja whitleyi (Iredale, 1938)

View scientific description and taxonomy

Scientific Details

Additional information in:
Gomon. M.F., Bray, D.J. & Kuiter, R.H. (eds) (2008) Fishes of Australia's Southern Coast. Sydney : Reed New Holland 928 pp.

Order level detail.
Ray-like fishes with an extremely flattened bodies with wing-like pectoral fins fused to the head and body usually with thorn-like denticles on the top, lobed pelvic fins, and a long slender tail usually with several fins and no venomous spine. Skates are the most diverse group of rays.

Family level detail.
Small to large skates with extremely flattened round to rhomboid discs with variably-shaped snouts with a central cartilaginous support, 5 gill slits on the underside, patches of thorns and granular denticles on top, lobed pelvic fins and a slender tail, usually with 1-2 dorsal fins and a small fin at the end.

Taxonomy

Phylum:
Chordata
Subphylum:
Craniata
Superclass:
Gnathostomata
Class:
Chondrichthyes
Subclass:
Elasmobranchii
Superorder:
Batoidea
Order:
Rajiformes
Family:
Rajidae
Genus:
Spiniraja
Species:
whitleyi

General Description

A large skate with an angled disc; snout broadly pointed with a central cartilaginous support; tail short, with 1-3 rows of thorns and two dorsal fins near the tip; 1-4 thorns along the middle behind the head; a patch of thorns on each wing. Grey or greyish-brown on top, scattered with white flecks, underside pale. Juveniles have a large dark blotch on each wing. To 1.7 m.

Biology

This species is abundant in shallow coastal waters where it feeds on fishes, octopuses and crabs. Females lay small leathery rectangular egg cases often called 'mermaid's purses'. Although not venomous, its thorny tail can inflict a painful injury.

Habitat

Coastal waters, in depths of 1-345 m,

Soft substrates

Distribution guide

Southern Australia.

Species Group

Sharks and rays Stingrays, stingarees and allies

Depth

Shallow (1-30 m)
Deep ( > 30 m)

Water Column

On or near sea floor

Max Size

1.7 m

Diet

Carnivore

Harmful

Although not venomous, its thorny tail can inflict a painful injury.

Commercial Species

No

Global Dispersal

Native to Australia

Conservation Status

  • DSE Advisory List : Not listed
  • EPBC Act 1999 : Not listed
  • IUCN Red List : Vulnerable

Author

article author Bray, D.J.

Di Bray is a Senior Collection Manager of ichthyology at Museum Victoria.

Author

article author Gomon, M.F.

Dr. Martin Gomon is a Senior Curator of ichthyology at Museum Victoria.

citation

Cite this page as:
Bray, D.J. & Gomon, M.F., 2011, Melbourne Skate, Spiniraja whitleyi, in Taxonomic Toolkit for marine life of Port Phillip Bay, Museum Victoria, accessed 25 Nov 2017, http://portphillipmarinelife.net.au:8098/species/6581

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