The SSTP recently attended a workshop on the common skate in Orkney, held by SNH and Marine Scotland science. The Orkney representation was the Council, Heriot Watt University, the Orkney Fishing Association and the Orkney Skate Trust.
There is a conundrum concerning the skate purses that literally wash up empty in their hundreds on certain Orkney beaches. This is despite survey records suggesting the Orkney skate are not doing as well as the west coast skate. A small group spent an hour on a beach and quickly gathered a dozen purses. The irony is, purses are a rare find within the Jura to Sunart MPA; a known skate area.
DNA work by PhD student Michelle Frost has shown that the west coast and Orkney skate are separate populations.
The focus of the workshop was how to gather the evidence to try to understand where the purses are coming from and the size of the Orkney population. Various forms of tagging was discussed as well as DNA extraction from the washed up purses and the use of divers and camera surveys to try and identify skate purse grounds.