White or bottlenosed skate (Rostroraja alba)

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



The white or bottlenosed skate Leucoraja circularis is a very large skate and can grow up to 2.3 m in length. It has a dorsoventrally flattened body with eyes and spiracles at the top of the head. It has a very pointed snout. The tail starts from angular pectoral discs. Its dorsal region is grey in colour with small white spots, while the underside is white.

Recorded distribution in Britain and Ireland

Expected to occur off the south west coasts of Britain and Ireland.

Global distribution



The white ray is an offshore demersal species inhabiting continental shelf and slope waters with a depth range of 30-600 m. Usually found on sand and rock-sand bottoms.

Depth range


Identifying features

  • Up to 2.3 m in legth.
  • Grey upper colouring with small white spots.
  • Underside white without black pores.
  • Very pointed and narrow snout with small sharp thorns.
  • The tail is often slightly shorter than the body.
  • Upper surface is without thorns.
  • Pectoral fins have concave front margins.

Additional information

Young hatchlings are a plain reddish-brown colour on the upper side, often with blue spots, and white beneath with broad dusky grey margins on the pectoral discs (McEachran & Dunn, 1998).


  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] http://www.fishbase.org, 2008-02-18

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

  4. 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. Merseyside BioBank., 2018. Merseyside BioBank (unverified). Occurrence dataset: https://doi.org/10.15468/iou2ld accessed via GBIF.org on 2018-10-01.

  2. NBN (National Biodiversity Network) Atlas. Available from: https://www.nbnatlas.org.

  3. OBIS (Ocean Biodiversity Information System),  2024. Global map of species distribution using gridded data. Available from: Ocean Biogeographic Information System. www.iobis.org. Accessed: 2024-05-21


This review can be cited as:

Barnes, M.K.S. 2008. Rostroraja alba White or bottlenosed skate. 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 21-05-2024]. Available from: https://www.marlin.ac.uk/species/detail/72

Last Updated: 22/05/2008