Odd Fish Washes Ashore on North Oregon Coast
(Seaside, Oregon) - Another day, another wacky fish situation on the north Oregon coast. This was the world of staff from Seaside Aquarium on Friday as they responded to a call about a strange fish washing up on the beach.
All photos courtesy Seaside Aquarium.
“It turned out to be a Longsnose Skate,” said Tiffany Boothe, of the Seaside Aquarium. “Though these skates are not uncommon in the wild, it is an unusual find for beachcombers.”
Boothe said it is still on the beach at Seaside, approximately three blocks north of the Seaside Turnaround.
A longnose skate is what is called a benthic fish, meaning it spends most of its time on the ocean floor, or anywhere from 82 feet to 2000 feet below the surface.
The scientific name of the creature is Raja rhina, said Boothe. They reach a size of about four feet in total length, although the average size is two to three feet.
They typically have round dots on the pectoral fins, which are called eyespots. They are used to distract potential predators; they attack the eyespots believing that they are the true eyes of the animal. Skates also bury themselves in the sand to avoid predators. Those who eat this species include large bony fish and sharks.
Boothe said the longnose skate feeds on small fish and invertebrates. They have adapted a unique way of capturing their prey by pouncing on top of their victim, pinning it to the ocean floor.
Little is known about their life span, Boothe said, although one is known to have lived for 13 years.
A live longnose skate washed up in Gearhart in 2007, which the Aquarium also responded to. A group of visitors were watching a distressed bird when they noticed the live fish flopping around. They dug a hole in the sand to keep it in water until aquarium staff arrived. It did not live long at the aquarium.
That kind of occurrance is extremely rare on the Oregon coast.
Cannon Beach is six miles from Seaside; Portland is about 75 miles away.
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