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Rare Fish Washes Ashore Along Oregon CoastSalem-News.com
A longnose skate is what is called a benthic fish, meaning it spends most of its time on the ocean floor.
(SEASIDE) - For the second time in three months, staff at the Seaside Aquarium have rescued a live fish that washed ashore at Seaside.
This time, however, this rare kind of event has an even rarer twist.
On Friday, a group of concerned citizens discovered something flopping around in the surf at Sunset Beach, just north of Seaside.
The creature turned out to be a longnose skate -- which was not only alive, but was an extraordinary find because this species usually lives well below the ocean surface.
Chandler said the group was actually watching a distressed bird on behalf of an animal rescue organization on the north coast when they noticed the live fish.
“They dug a hole in the sand around it to keep in water,” Chandler said. “It was incredible that was it still alive. That’s extremely rare.
“Both bird and fish were recovered. I’m not sure at all what got him stranded. The surf wasn’t that big. This was just one of those freaky things.”
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.
Chandler said the skate -- which is now housed and recovering at the aquarium -- was not in good condition as it had been out of the water some time.
“He doesn’t appear damaged, although he was bumped around a bit by coming up on the surf,” Chandler said. “He’s still getting acclimated to his surroundings. He hasn’t eaten, but that’s common for a fish new to captivity. He’s in pretty bad shape because of being in the air so long, so it’s hard to say if he’s going to make it.”
The scientific name of the creature is Raja rhina, said Tiffany Boothe, of the aquarium. They can reach a size of about four feet in total length, although the average size is two to three feet. The one found by aquarium staff is 32 inches.
“Notice the round dots on the skate pectoral fins,” Boothe said. “These are referred to as eyespots. These eyespots 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.
Boothe added that 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 lived for 13 years.
They are usually found from the Bering Sea to Baja California.
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