Skating by: low energetic costs of swimming in a batoid fish

J Exp Biol. 2016 Jun 15;219(Pt 12):1804-7. doi: 10.1242/jeb.136358. Epub 2016 Apr 14.


We quantify the oxygen consumption rates and cost of transport (COT) of a benthic batoid fish, the little skate, Leucoraja erinacea, at three swimming speeds. We report that this species has the lowest mass-adjusted swimming metabolic rate measured for any elasmobranch; however, this species incurs a much higher COT at approximately five times the lowest values recorded for some teleosts. In addition, because skates lack a propulsive caudal fin and could not sustain steady swimming beyond a relatively low optimum speed of 1.25 body lengths s(-1), we propose that the locomotor efficiency of benthic rajiform fishes is limited to the descending portion of a single COT-speed relationship. This renders these species poorly suited for long-distance translocation and, therefore, especially vulnerable to regional-scale environmental disturbances.

Keywords: COT; Elasmobranch; Locomotion; Metabolic rate; Performance.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Energy Metabolism*
  • Skates, Fish / physiology*
  • Swimming*