Bathyraja spinosissima 

Scope: Global
Language: English

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Chondrichthyes Rajiformes Arhynchobatidae

Scientific Name: Bathyraja spinosissima (Beebe & Tee-Van, 1941)
Common Name(s):
English Pacific White Skate
Psammobatis spinosissima Beebe & Tee-Van, 1941
Taxonomic Source(s): Eschmeyer, W.N. and Fricke, R. (eds). 2015. Catalog of Fishes: genera, species, references. Updated 1 October 2015. Available at: (Accessed: 1 October 2015).

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern ver 3.1
Year Published: 2015
Date Assessed: 2014-11-25
Assessor(s): Provost, C., Ebert, D.A. & Orlov, A.
Reviewer(s): Matta, M.E., Jang, J.J. & Reichert, A.N.
Facilitator/Compiler(s): Lawson, J., Walls, R.H.L. & Dulvy, N.K.
Pacific White Skate (Bathyraja spinosissima) is a large, rarely encountered deepwater skate, known only from a few scattered specimens from Cocos Island, Costa Rica to Port Waldport, Oregon, USA. This species has been incorrectly reported to occur in the Galápagos Islands, however it appears that Pacific White Skate is not found here. It has also been reported in the Sea of Okhotsk, Russia, but this may actually be a different species. It is one of the deepest living skate species, occurring to nearly 3,000 m depth, beyond the reach of most trawl operations. Remotely Operated Vehicle footage taken off of central California suggests that this species lives on rocky substrate, which also precludes it being caught by trawl fisheries. The expansion of the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary in 2009 to include the Davidson Seamount also offers protection to this species, as it is known to inhabit these waters. Given that this skate lives in deep and rocky habitat that is largely outside of the reach and interest of current fisheries, and that it is rarely captured, Pacific White Skate is assessed as Least Concern. However, deepsea fisheries should be monitored for continued expansion, as even low levels of bycatch may be unsustainable for this species.
Previously published Red List assessments:

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:

Pacific White Skate is reported to have a patchy distribution from Cocos Island, Costa Rica to Port Waldport, Oregon, USA (Ebert 2003, Ebert pers. obs. 2007, Dolganov 1999, Fedorov et al. 2003). The distribution of this species remains unclear as previous descriptions of this species included the Galápagos Islands, however it appears that Pacific White Skate is not found here, and this error may actually be referring to the confirmed record of this species off the Cocos Island, Costa Rica (Beebe and Tee-Van 1941, J.D. McEachran pers. comm. 2007). Additionally, the reported presence of Pacific White Skate in the Sea of Okhotsk, Russia may actually be a different species (Ebert 2003).

Countries occurrence:
Costa Rica (Cocos I.); United States (Oregon)
FAO Marine Fishing Areas:
Pacific – southeast; Pacific – northeast; Pacific – eastern central; Pacific – northwest
Additional data:
Lower depth limit (metres):2906
Upper depth limit (metres):800
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]


In the waters of the west coast of the United States, Pacific White Skate is known mostly from photographs from remotely operated vehicle (ROV) surveys and perhaps only about 4–6 specimens have been captured (Ebert pers. obs. 2007). This species appears to be uncommon in the Sea of Okhotsk according to bottom trawl survey data, as it was caught in only 2.3% of 257 hauls in a deepwater survey in 1999 at depths down to 2,000 m (Dudnik and Dolganov 1992).

Current Population Trend:Unknown
Additional data:
Population severely fragmented:No

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:This is one of the deepest living skate species occurring from 800-2,906 m on the western US coast continental slope (Ebert 2003). In the Sea of Okhotsk, the depth range is 1,250–2,025 m (Dudnik and Dolganov 1992). Photos taken by ROVs often show this species swimming 1–3 m off the bottom over rocky substrates (D. Ebert pers. obs. 2007).

Pacific White Skate attains a maximum length of at least 203 cm total length (TL) (Dolganov and Tuponogov 1999). Like other skates, reproduction is oviparous (Ebert 2003). An egg case measured 9.2 cm length and 6.65 cm width (Ebert and Davis 2007). Size at birth is reported at ~26 cm TL (Ebert 2003).

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade: This species is not utilized.

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): Pacific White Skate is known only from a few scattered records throughout its range. Reportedly it occurs to nearly 3,000 m which is beyond the depth range of most trawl operations. Videotape footage of this species from 1,875 m deep off central California suggest that it lives on rocky substrate that also precludes its being caught by trawl fishing operations (D. Ebert pers obs. 2007).

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions:

The Davidson Seamount, located 75 km off the central Californian Coast, was added to the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary in 2009. This seamount is within the known range of Pacific White Skate. At present, the species occurs mainly beyond the depth of fishing operations on rocky untrawlable substrate. It is unlikely then, that deep bottom trawl fisheries will develop in the area; however the situation should be monitored. Like other large deepwater skates, this species is probably intrinsically vulnerable to population depletion and therefore bycatch would be of concern. However, it is presently rarely encountered. Further specimens are required for research on Pacific White Skate biology, and genetics and to confirm its distribution.

Citation: Provost, C., Ebert, D.A. & Orlov, A. 2015. Bathyraja spinosissima. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2015: e.T161486A80675821. . Downloaded on 21 June 2018.
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