Flapper skate photo ID

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Common or flapper skate (Dipturus intermedius) are the largest skates in UK waters, reaching lengths of over 2m (72” or 6’) and weights of over 100kg (222lbs).

Once common, they have suffered large declines in population numbers, and the species is now very rare or extinct across most of its natural range. The Loch Sunart to the Sound of Jura Marine Protected Area (MPA) is designated to help protect the common skate in Argyll waters.

Researchers from SAMS and NatureScot have shown that skates can be identified from the spot patterns on their backs. This has led to the compilation a ‘Residents Catalogue’ and database containing the best photo of each skate identified in the MPA. Being able to identify individual skates will eventually allow researchers to estimate the size of the skate population in the MPA and how this changes over time. If anglers can also indicate the general area where the skate was caught, this will help to study skate movements within the MPA over time. All of this will help the long-term conservation of skates in Argyll and across Scotland.

We would also like to receive your skate photos from elsewhere in Scotland; this will allow us to begin building residents catalogues for other areas and check for longer range skate movements.

This project relies on anglers continuing to submit photographs. We welcome any and all photographs.

Skate image gallery

We are continually working on the catalogue and hope to update it every 3 months or so. Please check back often to see if your photo has been added.

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Guides and advice

Skate Handling Best Practice Guide

The NatureScot guide has been written with the help of experienced skippers and anglers fishing in the Loch Sunart to the Sound of Jura Marine Protected Area (MPA) for skate...

How to take the best picture of your skate for photo ID

For advice on how to take the best picture of your skate, please click on the
link below...