Monday, November 23, 2009

A Washed-up Skate

At the second site we visited during Saturday's trip to Barnegat Inlet, there was a skate washed up on the beach. The tracks and dropping around the skate indicate that some birds had already discovered the skate's remains. The skate has a bloody patch on its right side, presumably from scavengers picking at it. While some openings on this skate are probably natural (the eyes and mouth need openings), others are more likely the work of scavengers. I am not entirely sure which holes fit in which category.

The photo above is a close-up of the skate's nose, eyes, and mouth.

Another point that I am not sure about is which species of skate was on the beach. There are six species of skate present in the Atlantic off the northeastern United States. Its translucent head suggests that this may be a Clearnose Skate, but I am not certain that this feature is diagnostic, especially for an animal that is getting picked on. Clearnose Skate is a southern species; according to the NOAA site New Jersey is at the northern end of this animal's range.

I did not realize this at the time, but it is possible to imagine a human face in the skate's remains if you view them from a certain perspective.

Added to Macro Monday.