Small-eyed ray (Raja microocellata)

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



Raja microocellata is a small skate and can grow up to 80 cm in length. It has a dorsoventrally flattened body with conspicuously small eyes and spiracles at the top of the head. It has a very pointed snout. The tail starts from rhomboid pectoral discs. Its dorsal region is greyish olive to light brown in colour with light blotches and long white bands, while the underside is white.

Recorded distribution in Britain and Ireland

Found off the southern and western coasts of England and most of Ireland. Particularly common in the Bristol and English Channels.

Global distribution



The small-eyed ray is a coastal and inshore demersal species inhabiting the inner continental shelf waters down to a depth of 100 m. Usually found on sand and rock-sand bottoms.

Depth range


Identifying features

  • Up to 80 cm in legth.
  • Greyish olive to light brown upper colouring with light blotches and long bands.
  • Underside is white.
  • Pointed but wide snout.
  • The tail is often slightly shorter than the body.
  • Upper surface is covered in spines.
  • A regular row of about 50 thorns from nape of neck to first dorsal fin.

Additional information

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Listed by


  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. Fenwick, 2018. Aphotomarine. Occurrence dataset Accessed via on 2018-10-01

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

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

  4. OBIS (Ocean Biodiversity Information System),  2024. Global map of species distribution using gridded data. Available from: Ocean Biogeographic Information System. Accessed: 2024-07-14

  5. 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. Raja microocellata Small-eyed 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 14-07-2024]. Available from:

Last Updated: 22/05/2008