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winter skate wings


Winter Skate are found only in the western North Atlantic. The northernmost limit of the winter skate range is the south coast of New Foundland, from which it ranges  southward to Cape Hatteras.  They are plentiful in our coastal waters throughout the year except for the warmer summer months.

At Viking Village the species has long been a bycatch fishery for scalloping and monkfishing but in recent years has been targeted by gillnetters as some traditional fisheries have declined.

Fish Watch Facts

•Geographic range: The winter skate is found in the western Atlantic Ocean from Newfoundland Banks and the southern Gulf of St. Lawrence (Canada), south to North Carolina (US).


•Habitat: Residing in waters from the surface to 300 feet (90 m) in depth, the winter skate prefers sand and gravel bottoms in shoal water in the northern portion of its range. This skate is relatively inactive during the day, with most activity occurring during the night time hours.


•Maximum size: Winter skate are large-bodied potentially reaching sizes of 150 cm  


•Life span: Winter Skate can reach ages of about 20 years. 


•Reaches reproductive maturity: Sexual maturity is reached at a large size of around 74 cm at about age 12


•Food: As a non-selective predator, the diet of the winter skate includes fish and crustaceans.


•Reproduction: Winter skates are oviparous. Each female produces approximately 40 egg cases per year, each containing one embryo. •Spawning grounds: The egg cases are released by the female in offshore waters on rock bottom habitats.


•Spawning season: Although there is no defined reproductive season, winter skate reproduction peaks during the summer months. 


•Growth rate:.This species is slow-growing, late-maturing and long-lived.


•Migrations:   In the southern parts of its range the winter skate appears to move shoreward in autumn and offshore in the summer, suggesting a preference for cooler temperatures. 


•Predators: Predators of the winter skate are primarily large fishes.


•Commercial or recreational interest: Commercial


•Distinguishing characteristics:The disc of the winter skate is rounded with blunt pectoral fin tips.The snout is bluntly rounded. The first and second dorsal fins are similar size and shape.The tail has narrow lateral folds with males possessing claspers that trail about halfway down the length of the tail. The winter skate is light brown dorsally with many roundish dark spots.There is whitish translucent area on each side of the snout in front of the eyes.

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