Bathyraja abyssicola 

Scope: Global
Language: English

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Chondrichthyes Rajiformes Arhynchobatidae

Scientific Name: Bathyraja abyssicola (Gilbert, 1896)
Common Name(s):
English Deepsea Skate
Raja abyssicola Gilbert, 1896
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: Data Deficient ver 3.1
Year Published: 2015
Date Assessed: 2014-11-24
Assessor(s): Cook, S.F. & Zorzi, G.D.
Reviewer(s): Clerkin, P.J. & Lawson, J.
Contributor(s): Provost, C. & Ebert, D.A.
Facilitator/Compiler(s): Walls, R.H.L. & Dulvy, N.K.
The Deepsea Skate (Bathyraja abyssicola) is the deepest occurring known rajid species and has a continuous range in the northern Pacific, from the deep waters off southern California, throughout the Bering Sea, to the Pacific central coast of Japan. There is no information on population size or trends, but this species is known to be regularly taken in unknown quantities in deepwater trawl fisheries in the Bering Sea. The Deepsea Skate is assessed as Data Deficient, because there is little information on life history, and it is unknown what proportion of the population may be susceptible to fishing pressure, and what proportion may be beyond the reach of existing deepwater fisheries. As fisheries for other species move deeper, this species will become subject to increased incidental capture. Estimates of catch and abundance are required to determine how significant the impact of incidental capture is on this species.
Previously published Red List assessments:

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:The Deepsea Skate has a continuous range in the northern Pacific Ocean from Bishop Rock, West Cortes Basin, California through the Bering Sea and Sea of Okhotsk to Choshi on the Pacific central coast of Honshu, Japan (Dolganov 1983, Nakaya 1983, Ishihara and Ishiyama 1985, 1986, Zorzi and Anderson 1988, 1990, Stevenson and Orr 2005).
Countries occurrence:
Japan; Russian Federation; United States (California, Oregon, Washington)
FAO Marine Fishing Areas:
Pacific – northwest; Pacific – northeast
Additional data:
Lower depth limit (metres):2904
Upper depth limit (metres):396
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:There is no information available on the population size or trends. A research survey conducted trawl surveys at variable depths throughout the Bering Sea (shelf, slope, Aleutian Islands, and Gulf of Alaska), encountered this species only on the Bering Sea slope at depths greater that 950 m, resulting in a mean density of 0.10 individuals per km², and a maximum density of 26.42 individuals per km² (Stevenson et al. 2008). However, sampling at shallower depths along the Bering sea shelf, Aleutian Islands, and Gulf of Alaska may have precluded capture of this species.
Current Population Trend:Unknown
Additional data:
Population severely fragmented:No

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:The rarely encountered Deepsea Skate is the deepest occurring known rajid species, being recorded from depths of 396-2,904 m (Grinols 1965, Miller and Lea 1972, Eschmeyer et al. 1983, Zorzi and Anderson 1988, 1990). Due to the depths it inhabits, and paucity of records, little is known about the biology of this species. Egg cases measure 108-111 mm in total length (TL), but the number of eggs produced per reproductive cycle and the length of embryonic development are unknown (Ebert 2005). Size at maturity is estimated by Zorzi and Anderson (1988) as 1.10 m TL for males, although no specimens in the 0.75-1.0 m TL range occurred in the sample they examined so no closer estimate of minimum mature size could be made.

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade: There is no information on trade or use of this species.

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): Due to the rarity of this species and the depths at which it occurs, it is only taken in extreme deep-set gear (>400 m depth). It has been taken in bottom (otter) trawls. It is not common enough to be sought commercially, but it is apparently regularly taken by deep commercial trawling gear set for flatfishes in the Bering Sea. Because of the extreme depth at which they life, the deep-sea might function as a refuges from fishing pressure, but as commercial fisheries operations in other portions of its range move to trawl deeper waters, i.e., Oregon, where trawling for Thornyheads (Sebastolobus spp.) is currently being conducted down to the 1,300 m isobath (J. Griffith pers. comm.), we can expect to see many more of this species taken incidentally. Due to the number of this species observed by Cook (1979) in Japanese deep trawls in the Bering Sea, it may be more commonly harvested than once believed. Due to its apparent rarity and probable slow life history characteristics, it may be heavily impacted by increasing bathybenthic commercial fishery efforts. One record exists of this species being taken in a commercial blackcod (sablefish) trap (Zorzi pers. comm).

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: There are no conservation measures in place for this species. More research is required on this and other poorly known deepwater species to determine the impact that existing threats are having on the population.

Citation: Cook, S.F. & Zorzi, G.D. 2015. Bathyraja abyssicola. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2015: e.T2636A80673712. . Downloaded on 24 April 2018.
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