What do they look like?
A very large skate (the largest in the world, in fact!), it is olive-brown in colour and often has pale spots in no particular pattern. Its undersides are light grey, though they are darker when young. Male skates are smaller than females and have two long protrusions called “claspers” at the base of the tail near the pelvic fins.
Where can I see them in Scotland?
Although incredibly rare, you might find flapper skates off the north-west coast of Scotland or in the northern ranges of the North Sea around Orkney and Shetland. Unfortunately it has been described as extinct in many parts of its former range due to overexploitation, but there are promising signs of recovery.
They favour deep water with muddy substrates, where they will scavenge or forage for prawns, molluscs or even smaller skates and sharks.