Scientific name: Raja undulata
Size: Up to 3ft and 25lbs. UK shore caught typically 2-6lbs.
UK minimum size: 16inches/41cm from wingtip to wingtip
UK shore caught record: 21lbs 4oz
Fairly rounded shaped ray with a thick tail. There are various different colours on the back ranging from dark brown to grey and yellowish, and in addition to this there are multiple thick dark lines (the undulating pattern gives this species its name) and white spots are also present. There can also be spines and spikes running down the central part of the body and tail.
Thornback Ray (Raja clavata)
Big rod-caught thornback rays can weigh 9.07 Kg (20 lbs) or more. The average thornback ray weighs around 4.53 Kg (10 lbs).
As with all rays, the thornback ray has a flattened body with broad pectoral fins which resemble wings; its body is kite-shaped and brown-grey in colour on the back with thorn-like spines and a white underbelly. The thornback ray also has a light orange-brown marbled pattern across its back and mature females can also have the thorn-like spines which are normally found on its back on their underside as well.
Other species of ray can also have these thorn-like spines, which makes identification difficult however the thornback ray has the most spines by far. The small-eyed ray (Raja microocellata) has a very similar shape but lacks spines, it has a sand-brown back with pale, curlinging lines which make for an attractive pattern. The small-eyed ray can also be caught in the same areas as the thornback ray and with similar rigs and bait.
Warning: The spines are sharp, as are the teeth! Handle with care.
Small Eyed Ray
Scientific name: Raja microocellata
Also known as: Painted Ray
Size: Up to 3ft and 20lbs. UK shore caught typically 2-6lbs.
UK minimum size: 16ins/41cm from wingtip to wingtip.
UK shore caught record: 15lb 11oz
Short pointed snout and (unsurprisingly) small eyes with spiracles just behind. Colour can range from grey to green and brown with small dark dots and lighter lines crossing the body. Spines and spikes run down the central section of the body and tail, but these lie almost flat against the body. Tail is slightly shorter than the body and the underside is white.
Scientific name: Raja montagui
UK shore caught record: 8lb 5oz
Diamond shaped body with long tail. Can have small thorns towards the front of the body and along the centre of the body, sometimes running all of the way down the tail. Body is tan, light brown or cream with dark brown to black spots which fade towards the edges of the wings. There is usually a larger, lighter spot in the centre of each wing.
Scientific name: Myliobatoidei or Dasyatis pastinaca
UK shore caught record: 78lb 8oz
Body is a rounded triangular shape. Can be brown, olive or black in colour and skin is smooth. Snout is pointed and tail is long at about one and a half times the bodylength. A row of blunt thorns may be present on the backs of older specimens. Tail contains a large, serrated venomous stinger.