Winter Skate Southern Gulf of St. Lawrence population
Scientific Name: Leucoraja ocellata
Other/Previous Names: Winter Skate (Southern Gulf population)
Taxonomy Group: Fishes
Range: Atlantic Ocean
Last COSEWIC Assessment: May 2015
Last COSEWIC Designation: Non-active
SARA Status: No schedule, No Status
|Winter Skate ( Gulf of St. Lawrence population )||Endangered||No Status|
Image of Winter Skate
The winter skate is an ocean ground dwelling marine fish with a flattened body, large wing-like fins, a long slender tail, a rounded snout and spots on its back. Its back varies in color from pale brown to dark brown with black spots and one or more larger white spots located near the rear corner of each pectoral fin. These spots help to distinguish it from other skates. Its other side, the belly, is white. The winter skate is one of the largest species of skates in Atlantic Canada, reaching lengths of upwards of 110 cm. However, in the southern Gulf of St. Lawrence, winter skate mature and grow to considerably smaller sizes than anywhere else in their range. For example, female winter skate are mature by 42 cm in the southern Gulf, but 50% of winter skate are mature at 75 cm on the eastern Scotian Shelf. (Updated 2017/03/07)
The winter skate is mostly found on sandy or gravelly bottoms, usually in depths less than 110 metres, although they have been caught at depths approaching 400 metres. In the Southern Gulf, winter skate occupy shallow inshore areas in summer to early autumn, dispersing broadly on the eastern Scotian shelf during winter. Winter skate have been reported in waters ranging between -1.2°and 19° C. Winter skate in the Southern Gulf experience temperatures on the upper end of this range during the summer due to their coastal distribution. (Updated 2017/03/07)
Winter skate in the southern Gulf mature at a length of about 42 cm. This is much smaller than the length at maturity reported for winter skate elsewhere (75 cm). Age and growth data are not available for winter skate in the Gulf. Based on growth rates of little skate, which mature at about the same size as winter skate in the Gulf, a length at maturity of 42 cm would correspond to an age of 6 yr.
The winter skate’s slow population growth rate is caused by its delayed age at maturity, and low fecundity. Abundance of mature individuals in the Southern Gulf of St. Lawrence is at a historically low level, averaging 50,000 adults in surveys conducted over the past five years (2009-2013). Similar surveys completed from 1971-1975 averaged 3,160,000 adults. There is no directed fishery for winter skate in the Southern Gulf of St. Lawrence. Declining population numbers are attributed to natural mortality, such as predation, in conjunction with bycatch. (Updated 2017/03/07)
PLEASE NOTE: Not all COSEWIC reports are currently available on the SARA Public Registry. Most of the reports not yet available are status reports for species assessed by COSEWIC prior to May 2002. Other COSEWIC reports not yet available may include those species assessed as Extinct, Data Deficient or Not at Risk. In the meantime, they are available on request from the COSEWIC Secretariat.
7 record(s) found.
- COSEWIC Status Reports (1 record(s) found.)
- COSEWIC Assessments (1 record(s) found.)
- Response Statements (1 record(s) found.)
- Orders (2 record(s) found.)
- COSEWIC Annual Reports (1 record(s) found.)
- Consultation Documents (1 record(s) found.)
COSEWIC Status Reports
COSEWIC Annual Reports
COSEWIC Annual Report - 2005 (2005)2005 Annual Report to the Canadian Endangered Species Conservation Council (CESCC) from the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada.
Species at Risk Act - Legal Listing Consultation Workbook, Winter Skate (Leucoraja ocellata) Eastern Scotian Shelf Population; Georges Bank/Bay of Fundy/Western Scotian Shelf Population; Southern Gulf of St. Lawrence Population (2005)Your opinion is being sought to assist the government of Canada in making an informed decision on whether to add the Winter Skate (Eastern Scotian Shelf Population; Georges Bank/Bay of Fundy/Western Scotian Shelf Population; Southern Gulf of St. Lawrence Population) to the Schedule 1 (the List of Wildlife Species at Risk) of the Species at Risk Act (SARA). Your input on the impacts of adding this species to the List is important. This workbook has been developed to give you an opportunity to provide Fisheries and Oceans Canada with your feedback, advice, and other comments regarding adding this species to Schedule 1 of SARA (Schedule 1 identifies which species are legally protected under SARA).
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