Saturday, October 05, 2013

Skate or Ray?

I was clamming in Pamlico Sound Thursday afternoon. It is not uncommon to encounter blue crabs, sea squirts, horseshoe crabs, or small fish. They are all interesting to come across, especially if I have children or first-time clammers with me.

I am much less enthusiastic about encountering skates or rays. I know that skates are harmless, but rays can inflict a nasty sting...and I can never remember how to tell them apart.

On Thursday, as I was pushing my rake, I disturbed a large flat fish which languidly flapped its "wings" and moved several feet away. I know that rays are not aggressive, so, even if it was a sting ray, I didn't expect it to attack me. But I was wary because it remained so close, and I didn't want to inadvertently step on it.

Of course, I didn't take a photo, but I got the following picture of an Atlantic Ocean, South American skate from Wikipedia Commons:

More about stingrays tomorrow.

Our most recent Ocracoke Newsletter is a compilation of humorous stories told by or about islanders. You can read it here:


  1. Anonymous7:11 AM

    Philip, your experience mirrors one I had years ago while crabbing in calf-deep water just off the end of the road that leads back to the sound from the parking area at the Hammock Hills trail head. I encountered a skate/ray several feet away that moved off just a few feet yet still lingered nearby, which struck me as vaguely "menacing" and brought my crabbing to a premature end (yet clearly not my bellyaching). I've subsequently thought more than once about bringing along hip waders for future such outings.

    1. Anonymous8:10 AM

      Good grief, they are so similar. In any event , The Shark Trust suggests one engage in the sting ray shuffle when in the water. This shuffle will give the fish enough warning to move along. Honestly, how much brain capacity does this thing have and then, what kind of short term memory or calculating demeanor for that matter....

  2. Just found one in Staten Island


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