The Thornback Ray is England’s most common native ray and is sometimes called the Roker. It is found in shallow waters all around England, but especially in the Thames Estuary and along the south-east coast. It can grow up to a metre in length.
The Thornback Ray looks kite-shaped because it has a flattened body and broad wing-shaped fins. It also has a long whip-like thorny tail. The top of the Thornback Ray can be light brown or grey with lots of small dark spots, blotches and yellow patches. The underside is creamy-white with a greyish edge. The Thornback Ray has large sharp-looking hooked spines on its skin which are used to keep predators away. Its eyes are situated at the top of its head.
Thornback Rays live at the bottom of the sea and are very graceful swimmers that seem to glide through the water. They mainly eat shrimps, crabs, sand eels, flatfish and herring. They are caught nowadays for commercial use and are sold at most fishmongers. Many fishmongers describe most ray fish as 'skate'.