Raja undulata - Undulate Ray

Phylum: Chordata - Class: Elasmobranchii - Order: Rajiformes - Family: Rajidae

Undulate ray

This is a very attractive member of the ray family, with its wavy markings on the upper body; however, the common name comes from the undulations on the leading edge of the body disk.  Undulate rays are occasionally caught off the coasts of south and west Wales, where fish to 10lb (4.5kg) are fairly common and specimens approaching twice that size are not unknown. The British record rod-caught Undulate Ray weighed 22lb 13oz and was caught in 2016 by Steve Juggins, fishing off Weymouth, Dorset.

The specimen shown here is almost black, but many Undulate Rays are a much lighter yellow-brown with dark wavy bands lined by a twin row of white spots. Other white spots add to the complex patterning. The underside is white graduating to grey near the tip of the tail.

The back of this ray is covered in small prickles, and there is a dense patch of prickles around the snout area. The dorsal fins are well separated and there are usually two dorsal spines between them. Males have one row of median spines on each side, while females have two. 

As with other rays, you are most likely to encounter this fish on sandy sea beds of depth 10 to 25m; occasionally they are caught at much greater depths. These rays feed of flatfish, squid, crustaceans and other bottom-dwelling creatures, and fish strips held on the bottom are most effective baits.

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