Big Skate

(Raja binoculata)

Find Me In
Pacific Canada Pavilion
IUCN Conservation Status
Least Concern (LC)


Sandy or muddy bottoms, or occassionally low strands of kelp/Pacific Coast from Alaska to Baja California


Size: Up to 7.9 ft. • Weight: Up to 201 lbs.

Big Skates have two large, black spots on their fins that resemble big, bright – and rather intense – eyes. These “eyes” are believed to confuse predators or make a small skate look larger and less vulnerable to a hungry shark. It is the largest skate in North America, with the biggest Big Skate on record a whopping 8 feet long!

The Big Skate spends most of its time lounging on the ocean floor, using its camouflage to blend in with the sand and rocks. When it does swim, it moves slowly and gracefully, flapping its wings like a bird in flight. Skates are often mistaken for stingrays due to the similarities in their appearance. One of the easiest ways to tell skates and stingrays apart is their tails: skates typically have shorter, thicker tails that do not have a stinger, whereas stingrays have sharp, stinging barbs on their long, whip-like tails that help them defend themselves.

Come on over to the Pacific Canada Pavilion to learn more about the Big Skate during your next visit to the Vancouver Aquarium.

Things To Know


Where Can You Find Me?

Pacific Canada Pavilion Exhibit

The Pacific Canada Pavilion spans two levels and features the fascinating marine life along Vancouver’s front door - its waterfront. Watch a biologist dive into the Strait of Georgia habitat in Pacific Canada and feed the animals!

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