Sandy ray (Leucoraja circularis)

Distribution data supplied by the Ocean Biodiversity Information System (OBIS). To interrogate UK data visit the NBN Atlas.Map Help



The sandy ray Leucoraja circularis is a large skate and can grow up to 1.2 m in length. It has a dorsoventrally flattened body with eyes and spiracles at the top of the head. It has a pointed snout. The tail, which is slender, starts from rhomboid pectoral discs. It may vary in colouration from a sandy colour to a reddish or dark brown. The sandy skate will usually have 4-6 creamy spots on each wing.

Recorded distribution in Britain and Ireland

Mainly found of the north coast of Scotland and the Shetland Isles but also off western Scotland and Ireland.

Global distribution



The sandy ray is an offshore demersal species with a depth range of 70-275 m, often found on sandy or muddy bottoms.

Depth range


Identifying features

  • Up to 1.2 m in legth.
  • Light to dark brown in colour.
  • Pointed snout with a prickly underside.
  • A row of about 8 thorns on the inner margin of the eyes and a triangle of thorns near the shoulder.
  • Upper surface covered in spines.
  • The tail is only slightly longer than the body.
  • Four to six creamy spots on each wing.

Additional information

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  1. Ebert, D.A. & Sulikowski, J.A. (eds.), 2007. Biology of skates. Environmental Biology of Fishes, 80, 107-349.

  2. Froese, R. & Pauly, D., 2007. Fishbase. A global information system on fishes. [On-line], 2008-02-18

  3. Howson, C.M. & Picton, B.E., 1997. The species directory of the marine fauna and flora of the British Isles and surrounding seas. Belfast: Ulster Museum. [Ulster Museum publication, no. 276.]

  4. McEachran, J.D. & Dunn, K.A., 1988. Phylogenetic analysis of skates, a morphologically conservative clade of elasmobranchs (Chondrichthyes: Rajidae). Copeia, 2, 271-290.

  5. Whitehead, P.J.P., Bauchot, M.-L., Hureau, J.-C., Nielson, J. & Tortonese, E. 1986. Fishes of the North-eastern Atlantic and the Mediterranean. Vol. I, II & III. Paris: United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO).


  1. Isle of Wight Local Records Centre, 2017. IOW Natural History & Archaeological Society Marine Records. Occurrence dataset: accessed via on 2018-09-27.

  2. NBN (National Biodiversity Network) Atlas. Available from:

  3. OBIS (Ocean Biodiversity Information System),  2024. Global map of species distribution using gridded data. Available from: Ocean Biogeographic Information System. Accessed: 2024-07-25

  4. Scottish Shark Tagging Programme, 2018. Capture Mark Recapture Data for Scottish Elasmobranchs: 2009-2018. Occurrence dataset: accessed via on 2018-10-02.


This review can be cited as:

Barnes, M.K.S. 2008. Leucoraja circularis Sandy ray. In Tyler-Walters H. and Hiscock K. Marine Life Information Network: Biology and Sensitivity Key Information Reviews, [on-line]. Plymouth: Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom. [cited 25-07-2024]. Available from:

Last Updated: 25/03/2008