What is the difference between a skate and a ray?

What is the difference between a skate (Raja undulata) and a ray (Dasyatis)?

Both the skate (an undulate ray) and the ray are marine (saltwater) cartilaginous fish related to the shark. Not all rays are stingrays.

Both the skate and the ray have flat, boneless bodies. Instead of bone, they have cartilage (the human nose and ears are made of cartilage).

Both the skate and the ray glide through the water.

The skate has an almost-rounded body, whereas the ray is usually diamond-shaped or kite-shaped.

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Skate (left) and ray (right)

The skate usually has two short thorns between its dorsal fins at the back of its tail (they are barbless), whereas the ray has sharp venomous barbs or non-venomous spines on its tail, depending upon the species of ray.

Skates generally have shorter, fleshier tales than rays, which are more like whip tails.

Skates are generally smaller than rays. Skates are about 100 centimetres (39 inches) long, whereas rays are about 150 centimetres (59 inches) long.

Skates are oviparous – they lay eggs, whereas rays can be either oviparous or ovoviparous. Some ovoviparous rays, such as stringrays, develop eggs which hatch inside the mother’s body and she gives birth to live young.

Undulate Ray

Undulate Ray (a Skate)

Southern Stingray

Southern Stingray

Southern Stingray

Southern Stingray



Photographer: Martina Nicolls



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