Raja binoculata  Class Chondrichthyes, Subclass Elasmobranchii (sharks and rays), Order Rajiformes (Skates and rays), Family Rajidae (Skates).

DISTRIBUTION: Bering Sea and southeastern Alaska to central Baja California.

HABITAT: Bottom dwellers on soft substrates, usually from shallow water to 300 m.  Found along the coast in estuaries, bays, and over the continental shelf. 

APPEARANCE:  Largest species of skate, adults usually 1.8 m (5.9 ft) and 91 kg (200 lb). There are two large dark spots with pale borders, one on each wing. The ventral side is white, sometimes with dark spots or blotches.

DIET: Benthic shrimps, worms, clams, some fishes.

REPRODUCTION and Development: Oviparous, and is one of the few skate species that typically have more than one embryo within each egg capsule, commonly called “mermaid’s purses”.   The egg capsule of a big skate is the largest of any skate, measuring 23–31 cm (9–12 in) long and 11–19 cm (4–7 in) wide.  The young emerge after 9 months and measure 18–23 cm (7–9 in).

REMARKS: Commercially fished off California.   R. binoculata‘s slow reproductive rate has led it to be assessed as Near Threatened by the World Conservation Union. 

LOCATION: Salt marsh pop-up CC03

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