Stay Eat Events Weather Beaches

'Mermaid' Purses Found on Oregon Coast Lately Could Yield Life

Updated 10/31/20 at 5:41 AM PDT
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

'Mermaid' Purses Found on Oregon Coast Lately Could Yield Life

Latest Coastal Lodging News Alerts
In Seaside:
Includes exclusive listings; some specials in summer
In Cannon Beach:
Includes rentals not listed anywhere else
In Manzanita, Wheeler, Rockaway Beach:
Some specials for summer
In Pacific City, Oceanside:
Some specials for summer
In Lincoln City:
Some specials for summer
In Depoe Bay, Gleneden Beach:
Some specials for summer
In Newport:
Look for some specials
In Waldport
Some specials for summer
In Yachats, Florence
Some specials for summer

(Yachats, Oregon) – A run of reports of something unusual has numerous beachcombers puzzled lately on the Oregon coast – or at least it was happening earlier this month. Sizable, dark brown purse-like objects have been reported in some areas (according to one notice from the Cape Perpetua Marine Reserve), just lying around the beaches, certainly in the Yachats area. (Photos Seaside Aquarium's Tiffany Boothe).

You’ll also, of course, find them along the Washington coast.

Sometimes they’re called mermaid purses, but mostly their real name is skate egg casings and they’re roughly about a foot long. Stranger still, they can actually have live eggs left inside, little white blobs that will one day hatch into actual longnose skates. These are long, sleek creatures that get about two or three feet long (known as Raja rhina), and their dried bodies periodically wash up. Sometimes it’s the casings of Big skates which are found (Raja binoculata).

Skate egg casings are made of thick collagen proteins and to the average person they’ll likely feel like plastic. Inside, they have two to seven egg embryos, although most of the time if they’re found on the beaches of the Washington coast or Oregon coast they’ve dried out or been tossed around too much to be still living.

When the right one is found by the right agency, these can hatch. Seaside Aquarium has been picking them up periodically since the early 2000s, and several have hatched into baby skates over the years, which have then been put on display.

“They probably have about six months before they are ready to leave their protective casing,” said Tiffany Boothe with the Seaside Aquarium. “Until then they cannot be on display. Their eyes are sensitive to light at this stage.”

Skates tend to reproduce later in life than many species, Boothe said.

“Adult female skates will drop these on the ocean floor, where the casing will drift for nine to twelve months,” Boothe said. “During that time, the embryos feed upon a yolk sack that they are attached to. When the babies are developed enough to be self-sufficient, one end of the casing will open up and the baby skates will emerge.”

The Hatfield Marine Science Center in Newport has had some luck bringing these to life as well. In early 2019, a visitor brought an egg casing by and biologists immediately noticed there wasn’t the telltale, dead fishy smell. They cut out a section and saw some movement in the embryos. They later replaced that cut-out section with an acrylic window so they could watch the embryos’ development, and placed it in a tank. Four months later, four male skates were born.

This happened several times over the years at the facility in Seaside.

West winds bring these unique, pointy sacks onto beaches, among other things, and late August saw a small rush of other creatures and objects as well. However, normally it’s winter or spring that creates the “ocean burps,” which is the name for when the ocean tosses a large variety of debris and marine life onto the sands. A late summer run of this is a bit unusual.

It's further proof that you should continue looking down while at the beach. You never know what you'll find. Oregon Coast Hotels for this event - Where to eat - Map - Virtual Tour

More About Oregon Coast hotels, lodging.....

More About Oregon Coast Restaurants, Dining.....


Oregon Coast event or adventure you can't miss


Coastal Spotlight

LATEST Related Oregon Coast Articles

Constant Killer Views at One Cannon Beach Legend: Oregon Coast Travel Tips
There's also deep history at this popular, luxury hotel. Cannon Beach hotel reviews, Cannon Beach lodging, Tolovana Inn
Pink Floyd on Oregon Coast? Pigs on the Wing Brings Visual, Sonic Punch to As...
At Astoria's Liberty Theatre this Saturday, September 30
UPDATE: Coast Guard Ends Search for Woman Swept Away at Rialto Beach, Washing...
Witnesses said she was sucked into the surf by heavy waves
Chonky, Orange Moon, Planets and Meteor Showers Coming: Washington / Oregon C...
Larger-than-usual full moon and some meteors coming later. Sciences
U.S. Travel Tips: Rugged, Remote to Chic at Tierra Del Mar on Oregon's North ...
From elegant to surfing, hiking, hang gliding. Pacific City hotels, Tillamook, Oceanside
Cannon Beach Hotels, Lodging, Motels - N. Oregon Coast
Updated weekly: hotels in Cannon Beach, Arch Cape, lodging, motels, inns, lodging deals
Oregon / Washington Coast Alerts: Flood Watch, First Big Waves of Season
Floods, lots of rain, high winds and some rather good storm watching, beach safety
Sea Lions Sick with Leptospirosis on Oregon Coast: Keep Pets, Yourselves Away
Stay clear of sick or dead sea lions. Marine sciences, beach safety

Back to Oregon Coast

Contact Advertise on
All Content, unless otherwise attributed, copyright Unauthorized use or publication is not permitted

Oregon Coast Lodging


Events Calendar

Oregon Coast Weather

Travel News

Search for Oregon Coast Subjects, Articles

Virtual Tours, Maps
Deep Details