Birch Aquarium at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego is celebrating the arrival of some ravioli-sized newborn Big Skates. For now, the babies will be raised in the nursery habitat in the Hall of Fishes as well as behind the scenes. As they continue to grow, they will be moved to other locations in the aquarium.
A name that speaks for itself, Big Skates are the largest species of skates found in North America and can get upwards of eight feet – that’s about the size of a surfboard. Despite this large size, their flat features and sandy coloration enable them to seamlessly blend into the seafloor. They have two large, black spots on their fins masquerading as oversized eyes. It’s believed these “eyes” make skates look larger, tricking potential predators from messing with them. While skates closely resemble stingrays, they are different. Skates lack a stinging barb and do not give live birth.
While the Big Skate is listed as species of “Least Concern” by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN), their large size and slow growth rate make them vulnerable to overfishing.
As a member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), Birch Aquarium participates in SAFE: Sharks & Rays. This collaborative effort brings together zoos, aquariums and a global network of partners, to influence positive change for sharks, rays and skates.