Embryo developmental events and the egg case of the Aleutian skate Bathyraja aleutica (Gilbert) and the Alaska skate Bathyraja parmifera (Bean)
Embryo development events were correlated with egg-case changes for the Aleutian skate Bathyraja aleutica and the Alaska skate Bathyraja parmifera. Yolk absorption underwent two phases: that of steady absorption during early development and that of rapid yolk absorption during the final development stages. Total length (LT) for 50% of the pre-hatching embryos egg-case jelly disappearance was 92·04 mm (range 81–102 mm) and 99·36 mm (range 81–100 mm) for B. aleutica and B. parmifera, respectively, allowing the inner chamber to open to seawater flow. The tail filament underwent three phases of growth: rapid elongation during early development (<100 mm embryo LT), stasis of tail filament length during the remainder of embryo development and rapid absorption soon after hatching. Complete tail filament development coincided with the disappearance of egg-case jelly. Clasper buds first developed at embryos >70 mm LT for both species and the sex ratio was 1:1 well before hatching. Egg cases that were devoid of an ova or developing embryo were c. 5·0 and 6·5% of the egg cases examined for B. aleutica and B. parmifera, respectively. Measurements showed that egg cases containing only egg jelly were smaller in both width and length than those possessing an ova. Embryo stages were punctuated with distinct events that correlated with egg case changes controlling the internal environment of the developing embryo.