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Raja stellulata

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
ANIMALIA CHORDATA CHONDRICHTHYES RAJIFORMES RAJIDAE

Scientific Name: Raja stellulata
Species Authority: Jordan & Gilbert, 1880
Common Name(s):
English Starry Skate, Rock Skate, Prickly Skate
Taxonomic Notes: First described by Jordan and Gilbert (1880). Gilbert (1915) described Raja montereyensis based on an adult male of this species. However, R. montereyensis was later determined to be a junior synonym of R. stellulata.

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern ver 3.1
Year Published: 2009
Date Assessed: 2008-12-01
Assessor(s): Robinson, H.J., Ebert, D.A. & Cailliet, G.M.
Reviewer(s): Valenti, S.V., Kulka, D.W. & Fowler, S.L. (Shark Red List Authority)
Justification:
A skate found mostly in rocky habitats at depths of 18–732 m, but more common inshore to 100 m depth. The species is confirmed from off the coasts of northern California, from Eureka to Coronado Bank, northern Baja California, Mexico. There are no confirmed records or voucher specimens of Raja stellulata from north of California. Total annual commercial landings data for grouped catch of ‘Skate, unspecified’ for California show that landings declined from 2000–2005. However, this catch primarily originates from trawl fisheries, of which this species is an insignificant component. Scientific survey samples have confirmed that the species is only occasionally captured by trawls, but it is one of the most common species caught in longline surveys on rocky, un-trawlable reefs. The species may be an occasional bycatch in recreational fisheries, but fishing pressure is not considered a significant threat to it at present. There are no data to suggest that the species’ population has declined and it is assessed as Least Concern, given that its habitat offers it protection from fisheries. Research on the species is ongoing and further data will become available in the future.

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description: Northeast and eastern central Pacific: confirmed from off the coasts of northern California, from Eureka to Coronado Bank, northern Baja California, Mexico (Ebert 2003, Miller and Lea 1972). There are no confirmed records or voucher specimens of Raja stellulata from north of California.

Reported to range into the Gulf of Alaska, but these records may be Bathyraja parmifera and not Raja stellulata (D. Ebert pers. obs. 2007, Ebert 2003, Mecklenberg et al. 2002). Raja stellulata is also reported from British Colombia, Canada, but its presence there is unconfirmed (Benson et al. 2001).
Countries:
Native:
Canada; Mexico (Baja California); United States (California)
FAO Marine Fishing Areas:
Native:
Pacific – eastern central; Pacific – northeast
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: Nothing is known on its population structure or status. Skates are generally not identified to species level and are often misidentified, precluding the collection of accurate species-specific catch data. This species has not been the subject of any research until very recently.
Population Trend: Unknown

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: Occurs mostly in rocky habitats (Ebert 2003). These skates can be found in water depths of 18–732 m (Miller and Lea 1972), although it is more common inshore to 100 m depth (Ebert 2003). Females reach maturity at 68 cm total length (TL) and males at 67 cm TL (Ebert 2003). Maximum size is 76 cm TL and size at birth is 12–16 cm TL (Ebert 2003).

Raja stellulata feed on benthic shrimps, cephalopods, and bony fishes (Ebert 2003).
Systems: Marine

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): Raja stellulata appears to occur mostly on rocky substrates that appear to preclude its capture by bottom trawler fishing vessels. Therefore, it is only occasionally taken as trawl bycatch (Ebert 2003). Although total annual commercial landings data for grouped catch of ‘Skate, unspecified’ for California show that landings declined from 2000–2005, of the species that form this catch this is probably the least likely skate to be taken. This species is only very occasionally seen in samples of National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) trawl surveys, whereas it is one of the most common species caught in NMFS longline surveys on rocky, un-trawlable reefs (D. Ebert pers. obs. 2007). Given the species’ shallow water occurrence it is likely only taken occasionally as a bycatch in recreational fisheries, but there are no data to confirm this (D. Ebert pers. obs. 2007). Therefore current fishing pressure is not considered a significant threat to this species.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: Measures in place
California’s Marine Life Protection Act, effective from 21st September 2007, establishes a Central Coast Region, composed of 29 marine protected areas (MPAs) off the state. (See: http://www.dfg.ca.gov/mlpa/newsroom_083107.asp for further details). The 29 sites within the Central Coast MPA series represent approximately 204 square miles (roughly 18%) of state waters in the Central Coast Study Region. The implementation of these MPAs in currently ongoing.

Southern California waters are largely closed to trawl fishing at this time (D. Ebert pes. obs. 2007).

Citation: Robinson, H.J., Ebert, D.A. & Cailliet, G.M. 2009. Raja stellulata. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2014.3. <www.iucnredlist.org>. Downloaded on 28 November 2014.
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