Neoraja caerulea 


Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Chondrichthyes Rajiformes Rajidae

Scientific Name: Neoraja caerulea
Species Authority: (Stehmann, 1976)
Common Name(s):
English Blue Pygmy Skate
Breviraja caerulea Stehmann, 1976
Taxonomic Source(s): Eschmeyer, W.N. (ed.). 2015. Catalog of Fishes. Updated 5 March 2015. Available at: (Accessed: 5 March 2015).
Taxonomic Notes: Originally described in the genus Breviraja.

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern ver 3.1
Year Published: 2015
Date Assessed: 2014-11-12
Assessor(s): Stehmann, M.F.W.
Reviewer(s): Walls, R., Séret, B. & Kemp, J.R.
Contributor(s): Farrell, E.
Facilitator/Compiler(s): Dulvy, N., Frazer, K. & Walls, R.

Blue Pygmy Skate (Neoraja caerulea) is a poorly known, small (up to 32 cm total length), deepwater skate that occurs at depths of 600–1,260 m. It is endemic to the Northeast Atlantic and appears to be relatively rare. It was only known from the type series until further records of this species were obtained with the development of deepwater fisheries on the continental slopes and scientific exploration cruises in the Northeast Atlantic. This species is occasionally taken as the bycatch of deepwater trawl fisheries, but most of its depth range lies beyond the reach of the main deepwater fisheries. Given its limited interaction with fisheries and deep range, it can be inferred that the risk of exploitation is low. For this reason, Blue Pygmy Skate is assessed as Least Concern.

Previously published Red List assessments:
2009 Data Deficient (DD)

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:

In the Northeast Atlantic, this skate is endemic to the continental slopes and adjacent banks along the Rockall Trough, west of Scotland and Ireland, and in the Bay of Biscay (Ebert and Stehmann 2013). Rodriguez-Cabello et al. (2013) reported a southward range expansion into deeper waters of the southern Bay of Biscay, off Galicia. Its depth range is 600–1,260 m.

Countries occurrence:
France (France (mainland)); Ireland; Spain (Spain (mainland)); United Kingdom (Great Britain)
FAO Marine Fishing Areas:
Atlantic – northeast
Lower depth limit (metres): 1260
Upper depth limit (metres): 600
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]


No information on population trends or structure is available, although this species appears to be rare where it occurs. The population is inferred to be stable based on its limited interaction with fisheries.

Current Population Trend: Stable
Additional data:

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:

This species occurs on continental slopes at depths of 600–1,260 m and it prefers mud and sand substrates (Stehmann 1976, Stehmann et al. 2008). The hydrographic conditions where it has been found suggest that it prefers temperatures that are > 6°C and salinities that are > 35 practical salinity units. If this is the case, the maximum depth of this species is c. 1,300 m (Stehmann 1976, Stehmann and Bürkel 1984, Stehmann et al. 2008).

Like other skates, this is likely an egg-laying species. Size at maturity for males is 20−25 cm total length (TL) and unknown for females. A 19.6 cm TL male found was immature while a 27 cm TL male was mature (Ebert and Stehmann 2013). The maximum reported size for this species is a 32 cm TL male (Stehmann and Bürkel 1984, Quéro et al. 2003).

Systems: Marine

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade: The species is not exploited nor traded commercially.

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s):

This skate is not targeted by commercial fisheries, but it is occasionally taken as bycatch of deepwater bottom trawl fisheries operating in the Northeast Atlantic. It mainly occurs at depths beyond the reach of deepwater fisheries. If fisheries expand into deeper parts of its range, fishing pressure could pose a greater threat, but currently there is no indication that this could happen.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions:

No species-specific management or conservation measures are currently in place. Monitoring of catches and further surveys are required to define this species’ full range, abundance and interaction with fisheries.

Citation: Stehmann, M.F.W. 2015. Neoraja caerulea. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2015: e.T161666A48908962. . Downloaded on 29 November 2015.
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