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There is little known and published concerning the barndoor skate. Most of the information concerns physical characteristics and conservation efforts. The world, however, is witnessing the apparent modern extinction of a marine animal that is well documented in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. For centuries, a creature over one meter in size went unnoticed. Unfortunately, it may continue to do so until it is extinct and exits the pages of books as quickly as it had entered. (Large 1998)

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Basta, J. 2002. "Dipturus laevis" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Dipturus_laevis.html
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Jennifer Basta, SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry
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Kimberly Schulz, SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry
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Conservation Status

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The conservation of the barndoor skate is becoming an increasingly popular subject of heated discussion. Casey and Myers (1998) concluded that it is "close to extinction" due to by-catch. A once common fish in all parts of the Gulf of Maine during the 1950s, it is now rarely found by anglers. Casey and Myers said that the only way to ensure the survival of the barndoor skate is to ban all extensive areas of trawling in the northwestern Atlantic.

Estimates from St. Pierre Bank indicate that the barndoor skate population was near 600,000 during the 1950s and has since plummeted to less than 500 in the 1970s. The barndoor skate population is especially vulnerable due to its low fecundity or number of young that it produces in each hatching.

Following Casey and Myers study, there was a petition in 1999 to the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) to have the barndoor skate added to the Endangered Species list. The NMFS is trying to determine if it needs to be added to the list.

Surprisingly, there is strong opposition to the idea that the barndoor skate is on the brink of extinction. Kenchington (1999) examined Casey and Myers' findings and came to his own conclusion that "the barndoor skate is not near to biological extinction and is showing no sign that it is headed in that direction. Rather, it seems to be experiencing a slow increase in abundance in a setting where human activity poses no threat to its continued existence as a species". In rebuttal to Kenchington's comments, the barndoor skate is missing in 7 of 9 previous locations where barndoor skates were common. (Bigelow and Schroeder 1953; Close 1999; Kenchington 1999; Large 1998)

US Federal List: no special status

CITES: no special status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: endangered

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Basta, J. 2002. "Dipturus laevis" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Dipturus_laevis.html
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Jennifer Basta, SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry
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Benefits

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If it were added to the Endangered Species list, then trawling in the northwestern Atlantic, which is quite common, would be more tightly restricted. This would place a further strain on the fishermen who must fish longer and harder in order to achieve past yields. Many of the animals that are used in commercial fisheries are preyed on by skates, however, there seem to be so few barndoor skates left that it does not seem to matter. (Bigelow and Schroeder 1953)

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Basta, J. 2002. "Dipturus laevis" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Dipturus_laevis.html
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Jennifer Basta, SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry
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Kimberly Schulz, SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry
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Benefits

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The barndoor skate is of no positive economic importance to humans.

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Basta, J. 2002. "Dipturus laevis" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Dipturus_laevis.html
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Trophic Strategy

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Barndoor skates do not seem to be fussy eaters. They will feed upon large crustaceans, such as lobsters, spider crabs, shrimp and crabs and even isopods. They also add to their diet bivalves like clams, and large gastropods such as worms and squid. Barndoor skates also seem to be more destructive upon fish than other local skates and have been known to bite on almost any type of bait (Bigelow and Schroeder 1953).

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Basta, J. 2002. "Dipturus laevis" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Dipturus_laevis.html
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Distribution

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The barndoor skate is found in the northwestern Atlantic Ocean. It is found from the Grand Banks of Newfoundland and the southern side of the Gulf of St. Lawrence, south to North Carolina. It is also undoubtedly reported in Florida where egg cases with embryos washed ashore in the 19th century (Bigelow and Schroeder 1953).

Biogeographic Regions: nearctic (Native )

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Basta, J. 2002. "Dipturus laevis" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Dipturus_laevis.html
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Habitat

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Barndoor skates seem to be found in a variety of habitats, from shoreline to nearly 235 fathoms. Most occur primarily around 5 fathoms or 70-80 fathoms. They seem to prefer sandy or gravel bottoms in shallower areas and in deeper waters, muddy bottoms. The skate appears to move closer to shore in the autumn and move further out to sea in the warmer summer months. It is believed that it does not have any north-south migratory patterns. (Bigelow and Schroeder 1953).

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Basta, J. 2002. "Dipturus laevis" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Dipturus_laevis.html
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Morphology

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The largest barndoor skates found have been 5-6 feet and 30-38 pounds thus deeming it the largest skate in the northwestern Atlantic. The lower surface is white, with blotchy gray spots. The dorsal surface is brown with scattered darker spots. The space between the 2 eyes is approximately 5.5 mm. Like other skates, the barndoor skate has gills. However, the tail lacks large thorns, which distinguishes it from all other skates of the genus Raja in the western north Atlantic except for 2 species. The tail does have 3 rows of smaller thorns.

The dorsal fins are far removed from the tail. There is a larger, misshaped spot on the inner part of each pectoral fin. There are also mucous pores on the ventral surface, marked by black dots and dashes. The barndoor skate has 30-40 teeth.

There are two sexes of barndoor skate. Mature males are smoother than females. Large females are rough, having small spines along a narrow margin from tip of the snout to the level of the nostrils. The young look almost exactly like the adults (Bigelow and Schroeder 1953).

Other Physical Features: bilateral symmetry

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Basta, J. 2002. "Dipturus laevis" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Dipturus_laevis.html
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Reproduction

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Many aspects of the reproductive cycle of the barndoor skate are still unknown but there are still aspects known. The eggs, which are quite large in size, are deposited from close to the shoreline down to the greatest depths at which the skate is found. The eggs are laid in the winter and hatch either in the late spring or in early summer. The numbers of hatchlings are quite small which gives the barndoor skate a low fecundity. The hatchlings closely resemble adults and range from 180-190 mm (Bigelow and Schroeder 1953).

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Basta, J. 2002. "Dipturus laevis" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Dipturus_laevis.html
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Brief Summary

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The barndoor skate, Dipturus laevis, is a species of marine cartilaginous fish in the skate family (family Rajidae). It is native to the northwestern Atlantic Ocean, and is found from the Grand Banks of Newfoundland and the southern side of the Gulf of St. Lawrence south to North Carolina. One of the largest skates found in the North Atlantic Ocean, the barndoor skate can reach up to 1.5 meters long. It is carnivorous, feeding on invertebrates and other fish found near the sea floor. While it moves out to sea during warmer months to cooler waters, it does not migrate long distances. The barndoor skate is not specifically targeted by the commercial fishing industry, but it is regularly found amongst by-catch in trawling nets used to harvest other species of fish, and sometimes then used for bait, petfood, or its wings taken for human food. Because of its extremely long life history: slow growth rate, late maturation (often 10 years or older), and small numbers of progeny (average 47 egg cases/year), the barndoor skate population is cited as highly susceptible to fishing pressure, and requires a long period to recover from overfishing. In the 1960s and early 1970s this species suffered a significant decline from overfishing to less than 10% of their 1960 numbers. Barndoor populations increased substantially since 1990; this increase was cited by the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) as reason to preclude it from designation as an endangered species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) after petitions for its candidacy in 1999 from GreenWorld and the Center for Marine Conservation. In 2003 the conservation status of this species was intensified from vulnerable to endangered by the World Conservation Union (IUCN). It was listed on the Green Peace International Seafood Redlist in 2010 reflecting the unsustainable effect of bottom trawling on this species. (Casey and Myers 1998; http://www.iucnredlist.org/apps/redlist/details/39771/0; Federal Register 2002; Wettstein; Wikipedia 2012)
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Diagnostic Description

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Disk broad, with sharply angled corners and a pointed snout; front edges concave. No middorsal spines on disk. Tail with 3 rows of spine (1 middorsal row and 1 row on each side). Dorsal fins close together (Ref. 7251). Upper surface brownish, with many scattered small dark spots. Mucous pores on nuchal region. Lower surface white, blotched irregularly with gray (Ref. 6902).
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Life Cycle

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Oviparous, paired eggs are laid. Embryos feed solely on yolk (Ref. 50449). Distinct pairing with embrace. Young may tend to follow large objects, such as their mother (Ref. 205).
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Migration

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Oceanodromous. Migrating within oceans typically between spawning and different feeding areas, as tunas do. Migrations should be cyclical and predictable and cover more than 100 km.
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Trophic Strategy

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Occurs from water's edge to 430 m depth; absent from shoal waters in south during warm months. Lives on all kinds of bottom (Ref. 27314). It tolerates a wide temperature range (1.2-20°C). Voracious predator(Ref. 5951); feeds on bivalve mollusks, squids, rock crabs, lobsters, shrimps, worms and fishes (Ref. 27314). Food also includes fishes like spiny dogfish, alewife, Atlantic herring, butterfish, sand lance, cunner, hakes and flatfishes. Parasites of the species include 1 turbellarian, 3 trematodes, 4 cestodes, 2 nematodes and 4 copepods, found on gills, skin and digestive tract; infestation is relatively severe (Ref. 5951).
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Biology

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Occur from water's edge to 430 m depth; absent from shoal waters in south during warm months (Ref. 7251). Found in salinities that range from 35 along the continental edge to 31.5 inshore along the open coast and as low as 21-24 (Ref. 6902). Live on all kinds of bottom (Ref. 205). Benthic (Ref. 5951). Feed on bivalve mollusks, squids, rock crabs, lobsters, shrimps, worms and fishes. Oviparous. Distinct pairing with embrace. Young may tend to follow large objects, such as their mother (Ref. 205). Eggs are oblong capsules with stiff pointed horns at the corners deposited during summer (with 6-month development) in sandy or muddy flats (Ref. 205, Ref. 114953). Egg capsules are 7.1-13.2 cm long and 4.6-7.4 cm wide (Ref. 41250). Males reaches maturity at ca. 100 cm TL, females at 96-105 cm TL; hatch size at 18-19 cm TL (Ref. 114953). Little use is made of the small quantities that are caught. In some cases, they are made into fish meal.
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Importance

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fisheries: of no interest; gamefish: yes
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Barndoor skate

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The barndoor skate (Dipturus laevis) is a species of marine cartilaginous fish in the skate family Rajidae of the order Rajiformes. It is native to the northwestern Atlantic Ocean, and is found from the Grand Banks of Newfoundland and the southern side of the Gulf of St. Lawrence south to North Carolina.[2] The fish is one of the largest skates found in the North Atlantic Ocean, reaching lengths up to 1.5 m (5 ft). It is carnivorous, feeding on invertebrates and other fish found near the sea floor.

After peaking in the 1950s, the population of the barndoor skate dramatically declined in the 1960s and early 1970s as a result of overfishing. In 2003, it was listed as endangered by the World Conservation Union. However, barndoor skate populations have increased substantially since 1990 and even surpassed 1960s population size by 2012. In 2019, the barndoor skate was downlisted to least concern by the IUCN based on its largely increased population, new protections within its range, and also minor expansions to its range.[1] In most cases, the barndoor skate is not intentionally harvested by the commercial fishing industry—it is usually considered bycatch in the trawling nets used to target other species of fish.

Description

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Skeleton

The barndoor skate is a flat-bodied fish with a large, disk-like body with sharply angled corners and a pointed snout. Its pectoral fins have evolved into broad, flat, wing-like appendages used to propel the fish through the water. These fins have a concave front edge with rounded posterior corners. Like sharks, it has a boneless skeleton made of cartilage, a tough, elastic substance composed of collagenous and/or elastic fibers, cells, and a firm, gel-like substance called the matrix. It has slot-like body openings called gill slits on the underside of the body beneath the pectoral fins that lead from the gills. The dorsal fins are close together and far removed from the tail.[3] It has two eyes on its dorsal surface, located about 5.5 centimeters (2.2 in) apart.[2]

The fish's upper surface is brown to reddish brown with many scattered darker spots, lighter streaks, and reticulations. The center of each pectoral fin is marked with an oval spot or blotch. The lower surface is light, white to grey, blotched irregularly with gray spots.[3][4] The barndoor skate is unique from other species of skate in its having a straight line that begins at the snout and ends at the anterior margin of the outer corner of the disk, but stopping short of the disk.[3]

The barndoor skate is one of the largest skates found in the North Atlantic Ocean.[2] It can reach lengths of up to 1.5 m (5 ft) and can weigh up to 18 kg (40 lb).[5] There have been unconfirmed reports of individuals reaching lengths of 1.8 meters (6 ft).[3] A 71–76 cm (28–30 in) barndoor skate typically weighs 2–3 kg (4–7 lb).[3]

The tail is moderately short and does not have large, thorn-like structures called dermal denticles that are normally found on skates. This lack of denticles distinguishes it from all but two species of skates found in the western Atlantic.[2] Larger individuals do have three rows of smaller denticles on the tail, and mature females also possess denticles on the head and shoulders, and along the dorsal midbelt of the disk and tail. Denticles are completely absent on small individuals.[3]

Habitat

The barndoor skate occurs in a range extending from the banks of Newfoundland, the southern Gulf of St. Lawrence, and along the northeastern coast and offshore banks of Nova Scotia south to North Carolina.[6] Reports in the 19th century said the range of the fish extended as far south as northeastern Florida, but more recent research suggests that the Florida discoveries may have actually been a misidentification of R. floridana.[7] It is found on various types of ocean bottoms, including soft muddy, sandy, and rocky bottoms. It can be found from the shoreline to depths to 750 m (2,460 ft), although it is most commonly found at depths less than 150 m (500 ft). It inhabits waters in a broad range of temperatures, from just above freezing to 20 °C (68 °F).[6] It appears to move closer to shore in the autumn and further out to sea in the warmer months. It tolerates brackish water where the salinity is as low as 21 to 24 parts per thousand, but it prefers salinity between 31 and 35 parts per thousand.[5] It is believed to not exhibit any north-south migratory patterns.

Diet

The fish is carnivorous, with its prey consisting mainly of benthic invertebrates and fishes. Such food items include polychaetes, gastropods, bivalve mollusks, rock crabs, cancer crabs, spider crabs, lobsters, shrimps, squids, and fishes including spiny dogfish, alewife, Atlantic herring, menhaden, hakes, sculpins, cunner, tautog, sand lance, butterfish, and various flounders. Juveniles primarily subsist on benthic invertebrates such as polychaetes, copepods, amphipods, isopods, crangon shrimp, and euphausiids.[8] Individuals have been found with the denticles on the snout worn smooth, indicating that the snout is used to dig in the mud or sand to obtain bivalve mollusks.[3]

Importance to humans

The barndoor skate is one of five skates in the Gulf of Maine that has commercial value, but of those, the species that are most frequently targeted are the winter skate (Leucoraja ocellata) and the thorny skate (Amblyraja radiata).[8] The barndoor skate is most commonly considered bycatch by commercial trawlers operating in the northwestern Atlantic that target other commercially valuable species of fish using bottom trawling.[5] When harvested, the flesh of the barndoor skate is used as bait, fish meal, and pet food, and the meat from its wings is sold for human consumption.[3] Since 1981, landings of skates have increased substantially, partly in response to increased demand for lobster bait, and more significantly, to the increased export market for skate wings.[9] The commercial retention and sale of barndoor skates was prohibited in the United States from 2003 until 2018.[1]

Conservation

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Barndoor skate caught during an NOAA research cruise

Abundances of barndoor skate dropped precipitously in the 1960s and early 1970s, coinciding with the period of intense fishing by foreign factory trawlers. The abundance remained very low through around 1990, but increased nearly exponentially from 1990–2005, and have been approaching the levels observed in the 1960s.[10] In 2012, they surpassed 1960s population levels.[1] In 1998, Casey and Myers[11] published a controversial study claiming that the barndoor skate was nearly extinct; however, they only presented data through 1993, so the recovery that had started in the early 1990s was not yet clearly evident. In 1999, two conservation groups, GreenWorld, based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and the Center for Marine Conservation, based in Washington, DC, petitioned the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) to have the barndoor skate listed under the Endangered Species Act. After a 12-month study, the NMFS announced in 2002 that listing the species as endangered or threatened was not warranted. It cited increases in abundance and biomass of barndoor skate observed during surveys since 1993, which had become quite rapid by that time.[12] In 1994, the World Conservation Union had listed the barndoor skate as "vulnerable" under the 1994 Categories and Criteria, but in 2003, it reassessed the species as endangered on the IUCN Red List.[1] In 2019, the species was downgraded to least concern because of its greatly increased population size.[1]

Each year, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) estimates current population levels for a variety of aquatic species of special interest, and releases an annual report showing the progress being made to reduce harvesting of overfished species. When a species has been determined to be either overfished or subject to overfishing, the regional fishery management councils are required to develop a plan to correct the problem. In 2006, NOAA published a press release stating that as a result of conservation efforts, between 2004 and 2005, monitored stocks of the barndoor skate had grown to a level that the NOAA no longer considers "overfished".[13]

Taxonomy and naming

The fish was originally described as Raja laevis by Samuel Latham Mitchill in 1818. The scientific name was later changed to the currently valid name Dipturus laevis. It has also been misidentified as Raia granulata by Theodore Gill, an American ichthyologist, in 1879.[14] The genus name, Dipturus, is derived from the Greek words di, meaning two, and pteryx, meaning wing. Raja, the original genus which was coined by Carl Linnaeus in 1758, is still recognized as a valid subgenus.[3]

See also

References

  1. ^ a b c d e f Kulka, D.W.; Cotton, C.F.; Anderson, B.; Herman, K.; Pacoureau, N.; Dulvy, N.K. (2020). "Dipturus laevis". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. 2020: e.T39771A124413280. doi:10.2305/IUCN.UK.2020-3.RLTS.T39771A124413280.en. Retrieved 18 November 2021.
  2. ^ a b c d Basta, J. (2002). "Dipturus laevis". Animal Diversity Web. Retrieved 28 December 2009.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i Wettstein, M.J. "Biological Profiles: Barndoor Skate". Florida Museum of Natural History, Ichthyology Department. Retrieved 28 December 2009.
  4. ^ Bigelow, H.B.; W.C. Schroeder (1953). "Sawfishes, guitarfishes, skates and rays.". In J. Tee-Van; et al. (eds.). Fishes of the western North Atlantic. Part two. New Haven: Sears Found. Mar. Res., Yale Univ.
  5. ^ a b c Froese, Rainer; Pauly, Daniel (eds.) (2006). "Dipturus laevis" in FishBase. June 2006 version.
  6. ^ a b Bigelow, H.B.; W.C. Schroeder (1954). "Deep water elasmobranchs and chimeroids from the northwestern Atlantic slope". Bull. Mus. Comp. Zool. 112: 38–87.
  7. ^ McEachran, J.D.; J.A. Musick (1975). "Distribution and relative abundance of seven species of skates (Pisces: Rajidae) which occur between Nova Scotia and Cape Hatteras". Fishery Bulletin. 73: 110–136.
  8. ^ a b Packer D.; Zetlin, C. & Vitaliano J. (2003). "Essential Fish Habitat Source Document: Barndoor Skate, Dipturus laevis, Life History and Habitat Characteristics" (PDF). National Marine Fisheries Service, NOAA Technical Memorandum NMFS-NE-173. Retrieved 28 December 2009. {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  9. ^ Northeast Fisheries Science Center (2000). "Report of the 30th Northeast Regional Stock Assessment Workshop (30th SAW): Stock Assessment Review Committee (SARC) consensus summary of assessments". Northeast Fish. Sci. Cent. Ref. Doc. 00-03. {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  10. ^ NEFSC (2009). "Data poor working group, skate assessment figures". NEFSC. Archived from the original on 14 December 2012. Retrieved 12 April 2011.
  11. ^ Casey, J.M.; R.A. Myers (1998). "Near extinction of a widely distributed fish". Science. 281 (5377): 690–692. doi:10.1126/science.281.5377.690. PMID 9685260.
  12. ^ NOAA. "endangered species ruling" (PDF). NOAA. Retrieved 12 April 2012.
  13. ^ "NOAA Releases Report on Status of U.S. Marine Fisheries for 2005" (Press release). National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. June 20, 2006. Archived from the original on 14 June 2010. Retrieved 28 December 2009.
  14. ^ Goode, G. B.; Bean, T. H. (1879). "List of the Fishes of Essex County, Massachusetts, including those of Massachusetts Bay". Bull. Essex Inst.: 28.

"Dipturus laevis". Integrated Taxonomic Information System. Retrieved 14 November 2006.

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Barndoor skate: Brief Summary

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The barndoor skate (Dipturus laevis) is a species of marine cartilaginous fish in the skate family Rajidae of the order Rajiformes. It is native to the northwestern Atlantic Ocean, and is found from the Grand Banks of Newfoundland and the southern side of the Gulf of St. Lawrence south to North Carolina. The fish is one of the largest skates found in the North Atlantic Ocean, reaching lengths up to 1.5 m (5 ft). It is carnivorous, feeding on invertebrates and other fish found near the sea floor.

After peaking in the 1950s, the population of the barndoor skate dramatically declined in the 1960s and early 1970s as a result of overfishing. In 2003, it was listed as endangered by the World Conservation Union. However, barndoor skate populations have increased substantially since 1990 and even surpassed 1960s population size by 2012. In 2019, the barndoor skate was downlisted to least concern by the IUCN based on its largely increased population, new protections within its range, and also minor expansions to its range. In most cases, the barndoor skate is not intentionally harvested by the commercial fishing industry—it is usually considered bycatch in the trawling nets used to target other species of fish.

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Diet

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Bivalve molluscs, squids, rock crabs, lobsters, shrimps, worms and fishes
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North-West Atlantic Ocean species (NWARMS) North-West Atlantic Ocean species (NWARMS) North-West Atlantic Ocean species (NWARMS) North-West Atlantic Ocean species (NWARMS) North-West Atlantic Ocean species (NWARMS) North-West Atlantic Ocean species (NWARMS) North-West Atlantic Ocean species (NWARMS)
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Distribution

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Grand Banks and southern Gulf of St. Lawrence to North Carolina
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Habitat

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Found on a variety of bottom environments to depths of 750m.
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Habitat

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benthic
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WoRMS Editorial Board
bibliographic citation
North-West Atlantic Ocean species (NWARMS) North-West Atlantic Ocean species (NWARMS) North-West Atlantic Ocean species (NWARMS) North-West Atlantic Ocean species (NWARMS) North-West Atlantic Ocean species (NWARMS) North-West Atlantic Ocean species (NWARMS) North-West Atlantic Ocean species (NWARMS)
contributor
Kennedy, Mary [email]
contributor
Kennedy, Mary [email]