Undulate ray

Undulate ray ©Peter Verhoog

Undulate ray

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Scientific name: Raja undulata
The undulate ray has beautiful wavy patterns on its back, which helps it camouflage against the sandy seabed.

Top facts


Length: Up to 90 cm
Weight: Up to 4.5kg
Average Lifespan: Can live for more than 20 years

Conservation status

The undulate ray is listed as Endangered by the IUCN Red List and is a Priority Species under the UK Post-2010 Biodiversity Framework.

When to see

Present all year round


Undulate rays live on soft seabeds like sand and mud where they can bury themselves underneath the sediment. Instead of teeth, they have crushing plates which help them to feed on their diet of crustaceans.

Although it is commonly called the undulate ray, it is actually a species of skate (sometimes known as the undulate skate). Skates and rays are closely related and look similar, but you can spot the difference by looking at the tail. Skates have a short tail with small fins and no stinging capabilities, whereas rays have a long whip-like tail.

What to look for

The undulate ray is easily recognisable thanks to the dark wavy pattern on its back. Small spines run down the centre of the animal and along the whole tail.

Where to find

Found in the warmer waters around the south of Ireland and England.

Did you know?

The undulate skate lays eggs commonly called ‘mermaid’s purses’, which are made of keratin, the same material making our hair and nails. You can find empty egg cases along the shore that have been brought in by the tide.