Mediterranean Skates & Rays

To be cited as:
Mendez L., Bacquet A. and F. Briand. 2022. Guide of Mediterranean Skates and Rays.

This initiative by CIESM, in the wake of our recent work on sharks, aims to draw attention to their cartilaginous ‘cousins’ – the rays – which evolved from common ancestors at least 250 million years ago.  While living sharks include some 500 species worldwide, skates and rays are represented by some 630 species, most of which exhibiting a relatively narrow distributional range. Nowadays cartilagenous fishes are highly vulnerable to extinction mostly due to unregulated overfishing – deliberate or not. This is particularly the case in our region: only 38 species of skates and rays, all covered here, are found in the Mediterranean. 

Rays are slow-growing fishes, displaying a variety of reproductive and life history strategies. For instance, skates are oviparous, producing rectangular egg cases, while all other rays are viviparous. Migrations of rays can be substantial in some pelagic species but remain poorly known overall, along with their evolution since their largely cartilaginous skeleton does not fossilize well.

We thank the members of the CIESM Task Force on Sharks & Rays for their support, and especially Alen Soldo and Teresa Moura for their constructive, detailed comments on an earlier draft of this Guide.

© CIESM. Paris, Monaco. 2022
All rights reserved. No part of this Guide may be used or reproduced in any manner without written permission, except in case of brief quotations in critical articles and reviews.