The Thornback Ray (Raja clavata) is a marine (saltwater) fish in the Rajidae family of rays.
The Thornback Ray has a flat body in the shape of a kite or diamond. It has broad, winglike pectoral fins. It has a long thorny tail. Its back is covered with many thorny, prickly spikes. Some of the thorns look like thick buttons, called bucklers. Older females also have thorns on their underbelly.
It varies in colour, from light-grey or light-brown to grey with dark blotches or brown with light beige blotches. Its underside is creamy-white. Its eyes are close together at the top of its head.
It measures about 100 centimetres (39 inches) in length.
The Thornback Ray is native to the coastal waters of Europe, the Atlantic Ocean of western Africa, and the Mediterranean Sea of North Africa. It prefers open seas, as well as shallow waters.
It lives on the sea bed, and often burrows slightly underneath the sand.
It feeds on small crabs, shrimps, and small fish.
The Thornback Ray is oviparous. The female lays eggs on the sand, mud, or pebbly sea bed. She lays up to 170 egg cases that look like oblong capsules. The egg cases hatch after about 120-150 days. The baby rays are called pups.
Location of photographs: Aquarium de Paris-Cinéaqua and Biodiversity of the Caucasus at the Georgian National Museum, Tbilisi
Photographer: Martina Nicolls
Martina Nicolls: SIMILAR BUT DIFFERENT IN THE ANIMAL KINGDOM