Raja melitensis

Author: Clark, 1926

Raja (Leucoraja) melitensis Clark, 1926

Status in World Register of Marine Species:
Accepted name: Leucoraja melitensis (Clark, 1926) (updated 2009-06-25)

Diagnosis: snout short, but tip somewhat pronounced; upper surface almost spinulose, with bare patches on centre of pectoral fins mainly in adults. A row of 6-12 thorns around inner margin of eye, those in the middle sometimes reduced; triangular patch of thornlets on nape/shoulder area, with a median row of about 4 prominent thorns; a median row of thorns on hind half of tail only, flanked by a parallel row on each side, continued on to hind part of body; dorsal fins separate, but no thorns between them; underside smooth, except for a narrow band of prickles at front edges. Colour: upper surface light brown, with a large eye-spot on each pectoral fin just behind greatest width of disc, made up of yellow worm-like markings and spots (similar to eye-spot in R. naevus) on an indistinct dusky blotch only a little darker than colour of disc; about three fainter dusky blotches on each pectoral fin; underside white. Size: to about 50 cm TL.

Habitat: benthic in about 60-600 m; not rare. Food: a preference for crustaceans, mainly amphipods. Reproduction: oviparous; egg-cases not known; breeding activity throughout year, but ripe females observed mainly in spring and autumn.

Distribution: western parts of Mediterranean only; moderately common along coast of Tunisia, not rare around Malta, but rare off Algeria and a single record from Italy.

Note: placed in the subgenus Leucoraja by Capape and Desoutter (1979).

Complementary iconography. Clark, 1931, in: Faune ichthyol. Atl. N., fiche 51.
Eggs, embryonic and young stages. No data.