Raja brachyura is a species of ray belonging to the order Rajiformes, and within this to the genus Raja formed by besides Raja brachyura by 24 other species. This species inhabits the waters of the eastern Atlantic Ocean, as well as the Mediterranean Sea, where they are found mainly on sandy bottoms at depths between 10 and 400 meters. In the winter months, it is common for specimens to approach more coastal waters, while during the summer they are usually found at greater depths.
The body of Raja brachyura can reach a total length of about 120 cm, with females being slightly larger than males. Like all rays, the body of Raja brachyura is very flattened dorsoventrally, and the disc adopts a diamond shape. At the rear end we find a relatively short tail, in the middle part of which we can observe several denticles running the entire length of the tail. In the rear part of the tail, there are two small dorsal fins.
As for the coloration, although there are several liveries, the most common to observe is between grayish and light brown, with numerous more or less circular spots of a darker brown color. In some specimens we will find on the back two larger and darker circular spots.
The diet of Raja brachyura specimens is based predominantly on crustaceans, which they find buried in the sandy bottom, and by means of an undulatory movement of their disc they dig them up.
The reproduction of this species occurs during the months of November to February, taking advantage of the time when they are in coastal waters. They are ovoviviparous, which means that after fertilization the female will lay eggs, in which the embryos will develop by feeding on the yolk sac. Generally, females usually lay about 30-60 eggs that are deposited on the bottom.
There is a possibility, given the high similarity, of confusing specimens of Raja brachyura with Raja montagui. The feature that will allow us to differentiate between these two species are the small spots on the disc of both species. While these spots reach the very edge in specimens of Raja brachyura, this is not the case in Raja montagui in which the edges of the discs are completely the same color as of the body.Photos: