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Audioguide 15

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Audioguide 15 children

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Thornback ray

Thornback ray


LatinRaja clavata
Size139 cm
FoodLarge crustaceans and fish
HabitatLives on the seabed down to 600 m depth

Near threatened

LocationEastern Atlantic

Thorns on its back

The thornback ray has a flattened body and a rounded snout. Usually the thornback ray is brownish with light-coloured spots, but its colour can vary greatly. The belly is light in colour. Its back is covered in spines that look like thorns and its tail has 3 rows of smaller spines.

Males in battle

Sexually mature males have spines thickened with button-like bases. They are situated on the top of the pectoral fins, on the underside and on the head. It is thought that the thornback ray uses them as weapons when they battle each other for females.

Reproduction and eggs

The thornback ray can reproduce. The male's pelvic fin is converted to reproductive organs and the male uses them to fertilise the eggs in the female. The female then lays one egg at a time on the seabed. The eggs are inside a brownish egg capsule. They hatch in 4-5 months.

Meet a thornback ray in the wild

You can encounter a thornback ray in Danish waters if you go snorkelling in the springtime. During this time, the thornback ray retreats into shallow coastal waters to spawn. You may also be lucky enough to find the thornback ray's empty egg capsules on the beach. The thornback ray is a common ray species in Denmark. It lives at depths of 20-30 meters and prefers soft sandy bottoms and muddy bottoms.

Sponsor of the thornback ray

The coast of the Pacific