Reproductive biology of skates, Bathyraja(Ishiyama), along the eastern Bering Sea continental slope
Eight Bathyraja skate species, Bathyraja aleutica, Bathyraja interrupta, Bathyraja lindbergi, Bathyraja maculata, Bathyraja minispinosa, Bathyraja parmifera, Bathyraja taranetzi and Bathyraja trachura, collected along the eastern Bering Sea continental slope were examined for reproductive features. The sex ratio for six of eight Bathyraja skate species studied was c. 1 : 1 with males dominating for B. interrupta and B. parmifera. Five of eight species examined, B. aleutica, B. lindbergi, B. parmifera, B. taranetzi and B. trachura approximately equalled or exceeded the maximum reported total length, LT. Maximum LT for three species (B. interrupta, B. minispinosa and B. parmifera) revealed that the largest individuals were males and that in three other species (B. lindbergi, B. maculata and B. trachura) both females and males grew to approximately the same size. Both females and males matured at approximately the same LT for seven of eight species. Only female B. aleutica matured at a much larger size than males. All species matured within a narrow size range following a protracted juvenile stage and once mature these skates appeared to grow very little. First maturity for all species occurred at ≥80% of their maximum LT. The number of oocytes did not significantly differ between the left and right ovary for any species. The total number of mature oocytes increased with LT for six of eight species examined. The number of oocytes for one species, B. aleutica, increased in number until 145 cm LT, then declined in those individuals greater in length. The egg cases of all species are described, of which four (B. lindbergi, B. parmifera, B. taranetzi and B. trachura) have never been previously reported. Evidence is presented that suggest skates may be limited to as little as one and as many as 13 spawning seasons, depending on the species, and that senescence may occur in older individuals.
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