Found on continental shelves in the east Atlantic from southwest England and Ireland to Gibraltar and northern Morocco.
Not found in the North Sea or the Mediterranean Sea.
Small-eyed Rays are only abundant in a few sites such as the Bristol Channel in the UK and Bertheaume Bay in France
â€¢ Maximum total length ~90cm.
â€¢ Conspicuously small eyes.
â€¢ Upper surface sandy in colour.
â€¢ Lighter streaks, spots and blotches in regular patterns.
â€¢ Lower surface white.
â€¢ Tail slightly shorter than body.
â€¢ Row of ~50 large thorns along midline to first dorsal fin
The Small-eyed Ray gets its name from its conspicuously small eyes, surrounded by small orbital thorns. The upper surface of the disc is predominantly spiny with the exception of the centre and rear third of the pectoral fins which are smoother. Along the midline from the head to the first dorsal fin there is a regular row of around 50 thorns.
These can become worn in older specimens. There are sometimes thorns on the lower edges of the tail, particularly in older females. At the end of the tail there are sometimes thorns between the dorsal fins. The underside of small individuals is smooth but the centre and head of the disc become rougher as the skate matures.
The Small-eyed Ray inhabits inshore and coastal waters down to about 100m (330ft) It is found on soft substrates favouring sandy bays and sand banks to which its
camouflage is perfectly suited
Very little is known about the diet of the Small-eyed Ray, though it most likely feeds on a variety of bottom dwelling invertebrates such as crustaceans and teleost fish. Studies from Bertheaume Bay, France have shown that it feeds almost exclusively on fast, teleost fish such as sandeels, particularly Ammodytes tobianus. It ambush's predators, once buried only their eyes and spiracles are visible.
Given its small geographical distribution and localised abundance, populations may be vulnerable to declines caused by over-fishing, habitat degradation and other disturbance.