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Thornback ray

Raja clavata


The thornback ray is a member of the family of the rays (Rajidae) and the order of the skates and rays (Rajaformes).

This ray if most frequently found in coastal waters, between a depth of 10 to 60 meters. In our own North Sea, this ray can be very territorial and hardly migrates. The thornback ray prefers a soft bottom, consisting of sand, silt or gravel. It is a nocturnal hunter. Its favorite prey are crustaceans, but the thornback ray also feeds on other bottom dwellers like flounder and smelt. During autumn and winter, this ray moves to deeper water. The thornback ray has thorns on the back of its smooth body.


This ray lays eggs, and is therefore oviparous. In northern waters, the eggs are laid in spring, in the Mediterraenean and southern waters in winter and spring. The egg cases have short, hollow horns. The female thornback ray on average lays around 48-74 eggs, that are nine cm long and five cm wide. A single female can deposit 150 eggs in year. The young rays leave the eggcase after four to five months at a length of 11 to 13 cm.

  • Maximum length: 125 cm
  • Maximum weight: 18 kg
  • Maximum lifespan: 12 years
  • Habitat: 10 to 300 meter depth
  • Catches: the populations are probably shrinking because of extensive fishing with trawl nets and long lines. The thornback ray is also a popular gamefish. There are no specific data available, as the catch data for several species are combined.
  • Status: ‘Near threatened’ on the international IUCN Red List (



Source: Fishbase


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