Sydney skate

Sydney skate
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Chondrichthyes
Order: Rajiformes
Family: Rajidae
Genus: Dentiraja
D. australis
Binomial name
Dentiraja australis
(Macleay, 1884)

Raia australis, Macleay, 1884
Okamejei australis, (Macleay, 1884)
Dipturus australis, (Macleay, 1884)

The Sydney skate (Dentiraja australis) is a species of skate of the family Rajidae native to waters off the east coast of Australia.[2][3]


Scottish-Australian naturalist William John Macleay described the species as Raja australis in 1884, from specimens collected from a trawl off the south head of Botany Bay. He was excited by the find of a skate species in Sydney waters and wondered about its potential as a food item. He observed, "As an article of food, skate has never been much in favour here, in fact, except in French cafés and places of that kind." [4] It was placed in the genus Dipturus in 2002, with other members of the then subgenus Dentiraja before the group was raised to genus level as a whole in 2016, when it gained its current binomial name Dentiraja australis.[5]

As well as Sydney skate, the species is also known as common skate, Pommy skate, or simply skate.[3]


Generally between 43 and 48 centimetres (17 and 19 in) long, the Sydney skate can reach 55 centimetres (22 in) in length.[2] The upperparts are brown, with lighter color on the snout and pectoral fins, while the underparts are white.[4]

Distribution and habitat

The Sydney skate is found on the continental shelf off the east coast of Australa, at depths of 20 to 325 metres (66 to 1,066 ft).[2]

Once one of the most abundant skate species the continental shelf off Eastern Australia, the Sydney skate has drastically declined in numbers.[6] Skate species declined in trawl catches off the New South Wales central and south coast by 83% between 1976/1977 and 1996/1997.[7]

It is one of four species identified as threatened with extinction by trawling in a 2021 report.[8]


  1. ^ Australian Biological Resources Study (28 June 2018). "Species Dentiraja australis (Macleay, 1884)". Australian Faunal Directory. Canberra, Australian Capital Territory: Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts, Australian Government. Retrieved 16 March 2021.
  2. ^ a b c Froese, Rainer and Pauly, Daniel, eds. (2006). "Dentiraja australis" in FishBase. April 2006 version.
  3. ^ a b Bray, Dianne J. (2020). "Sydney skate, Dentiraja australis Macleay, 1884". Fishes of Australia. Museum Victoria. Retrieved 15 March 2021.
  4. ^ a b Macleay, William John (1884). "Some results of trawl fishing outside Port Jackson". Proceedings of the Linnean Society of New South Wales. 8 (4): 457–462 [461–462].
  5. ^ Last, P.R.; Weigmann, S.; Yang, L. 2016. Changes to the nomenclature of the skates (Chondrichthyes: Rajiformes). Rays of the World: Supplementary Information. CSIRO Special Publication. pp. 11-34
  6. ^ Reis, Marcelo; Figueira, Will F. (2020). "Age, growth and reproductive biology of two endemic demersal bycatch elasmobranchs: Trygonorrhina fasciata and Dentiraja australis (Chondrichthyes: Rhinopristiformes, Rajiformes) from Eastern Australia". Zoologia. 37: 1–12. doi:10.3897/zoologia.37.e49318.
  7. ^ Graham, K. J.; Andrew, N. L.; Hodgson, K. E. (2001). "Changes in relative abundance of sharks and rays on Australian South East Fishery trawl grounds after twenty years of fishing". Marine and Freshwater Research. 52 (4): 549. doi:10.1071/MF99174.
  8. ^ Readfearn, Graham (15 March 2021). "Threatened Australian shark and skates at 'extreme risk' of being wiped out". Guardian Online. Retrieved 17 March 2021.

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