The northwest Atlantic population of thorny skates (Amblyraja radiata) inhabits an area that ranges from Greenland and Hudson Bay, Canada, to South Carolina. Despite such a wide range, very little is known about most aspects of the biology of this species. Recent stock assessment studies in the northeast United States indicate that the biomass of the thorny skate is below the threshold levels mandated by the Sustainable Fisheries Act. In order to gain insight into the life history of this skate, we estimated age and growth for thorny skates, using vertebral band counts from 224 individuals ranging in size from 29 to 105 cm total length (TL). Age bias plots and the coefficient of variation indicated that our aging method represents a nonbiased and precise approach for the age assessment of A. radiata. Marginal in -,rements were significantly differew. between months (KruskalWallis 1<0.001); a distinct trend of increasing monthly increment growth began in August. Age-at-length data were us( d to determine the von Bertalanffy growth parameters for this population: L-x = 127 cm (TL) and k=0.11 for males; L-x = 120 cm (TL) and k=(.13 for females. The oldest age estimates obtained for the thorny skate were 16 years for both males and females, which corresponded to total lengths of 103 cm and 105 cm, respectively.


Biological Sciences

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Fishery Bulletin


National Marine Fisheries Service Scientific Publication Office

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