New record and range extension of the Deepsea Skate, Bathyraja abyssicola (Chondrichthyes: Arhynchobatidae), in the Galapagos Islands
Skates are a diverse group within the chondrichthyans and comprise a large component of the bycatch in many demersal fisheries. The distribution of the Deepsea Skate, Bathyraja abyssicola, is presently known to be limited to the northern temperate Pacific Ocean. We filmed B. abyssicola from a remote operated vehicle during surveys undertaken on a seamount located north of Darwin Island within the Galapagos Marine Reserve in 2015. This sighting represents the first record of B. abyssicola in the Galapagos Marine Reserve and the first record of the species from anywhere in the tropical eastern Pacific Ocean. The large range extension of this species to tropical low-latitude waters of the Pacific Ocean is a critical contribution to conservation biology of this poorly known species, especially since deepwater skates and rays are generally over-exploited. This new record also highlights our limited knowledge of unique deepwater ecosystems in general and those of the Galapagos Islands in particular.