Big skates have two large, black spots on their fins, which resemble large eyes. Scientists think these “eyes” might confuse predators or make a small skate look larger and less vulnerable to a hungry shark.
Big skates hide in the sand and mud along the seafloor, with only their eyes protruding. Their gray, mottled bodies blend into the background of the seafloor; this camouflage protects them from predators like sharks.
Sharks, skates and rays live longer and produce fewer offspring than most other kinds of fishes, and that makes them particularly vulnerable to overfishing. Declining catch rates indicate that shark populations are rapidly decreasing in many parts of the world.
The largest big skate on record was eight feet (2.4 m) long!