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Thornback Ray fishing in the Bristol Channel (Raja clavata)

The Thornback Ray is the most common of the rays found around the coast of Wales. The Thornback prefers the shallower costal waters, preferring a sandy, muddy or shingle bottom but will also be found over mixed ground. They are mainly a bottom feeder with crabs, flatfish, shrimps, sand eels and shellfish making up there staple diet, but they are by no means a fussy eater

The Thornback Ray's colour is a mottled brown to grey colouring on top, with dark spots, yellowish patches and white/grey underside, these colours all help to camouflage it against the sea bed where it spends most of its time. Females are bigger than the males and have spines only in the front part, whereas the males are spiny all over the upper surface. The spines along its back is what gives the ray its name, make it fairly easy to recognise when caught by the angler.

The Thornback Ray breeds in spring with the female producing about one hundred and fifty eggs. The eggs known as mermaids purses, are then released in the shallows. After approximately fifteen weeks they hatch out fully formed to begin their life on the sea bed. They lay their eggs between March and August, and it takes about five months for the eggs to hatch. Thornbacks reach maturity in about eight years.

Welsh Thornback Ray RecordThe Welsh rod caught record is 31lb 7oz caught off the North Wales coast in 1981 by J Wright.
British Thornback Ray RecordIts also a Uk record at 31lb 7ox by J Wright 1981
Thornback Ray Fishing SeasonMarch to December

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