Raja bigelowi

Author: Stehmann, 1978

Raja (Rajella) bigelowi Stehmann, 1978

Status in World Register of Marine Species:
Accepted name: Rajella bigelowi (Stehmann, 1978) (updated 2009-06-25)

Diagnosis: snout short; disc relatively narrow, roundish to rhombic, with broadly rounded outer corners; tail always considerably longer than body. Upper surface entirely spinulose, centre of pectoral fins more or less bare in adult males. A patch of 3-15 prominent thorns always present on tip of snout; juveniles with a thorn in front of and behind eye, a pair of thorns between spiracles, 2 thorns on nape, one on mid-shoulder and 2-3 on each side of shoulder; larger specimens usually with a complete row of 5-7 thorns around inner margin of eye, a triangular patch of 10-18 thorns on nape/shoulder region, and a median row of 26-33 thorns (usually less than 30) from shoulder to first dorsal fin, flanked in larger young and adults by 2-4 irregular parallel rows of up to 30 thorns from hind part of body to first dorsal fin (clearly larger than median thorns from early on); dorsal fins confluent; underside smooth except for marginal bands of prickles along tail. Colour: upper surface uniform dusky grey, with back and tail much lighter in young, limy-white in half-grown specimens, ashygrey to greyish-white in adults; underside of disc and pelvic fins always plain dark brown, darker than upperside, tail always distinctly lighter. Size: to about 50 cm TL.

Habitat: benthic on continental slopes and deepwater rises, between 65C and 2,200 m, but mainly below 1,500 m; rare. Food: no data. Reproduction: oviparous, but egg-cases unknown; smallest recorded juvenile 117 mm TL.

Distribution: within the area in Rockall Trough and also the Azores. Elsewhere, western North Atlantic (most records so far) from Grand Banks off Newfoundland southward to north-eastern Gulf of Mexico. Distribution probably much wider in deepwater.

Complementary iconography. Bigelow and Schroeder, 1953a: fig. 30-31.
Eggs, embryonic and young stages. Bigelow and Schroeder, 1953a :163-165, fig. 31B | Stehmann, 1978: fig. 3.