Currently viewing the category: "Fish"

Subject: Bug/Creature?
Location: Seaside Heights, NJ beach
August 1, 2016 4:55 pm
found a bunch of these washed up on shore from the ocean and was wondering what they are…
Signature: Karen

Shark or Ray Egg Case

Mermaid’s Purse

Dear Karen,
This is a Mermaid’s Purse, the egg case of a shark, skate or ray.  According to About Education:  “Perhaps you’ve found a “mermaid’s purse” on the beach. These mermaid’s purses blend in really well with seaweed, so you may also have walked right by one.   The enchantingly-named structures are the egg cases of skates and some sharks. While some sharks bear live young, some sharks (and all skates) release their embryos in leathery egg cases that have horns and sometimes long tendrils at each corner. The tendrils allow them to anchor to seaweeds or other substrates. Each egg case contains one embryo. The case is made up of a material that is a combination of collagen and keratin, so a dried egg case feels similar to a fingernail. ”  According to British Marine Life Study Society:  “Regular rockpoolers are likely to have come across ‘Mermaid’s Purses’, containing the eggs or young of the Lesser-spotted Dogfish,
Scyliorhinus canicula, lying amongst the debris on the tideline. These egg capsules that have been dislodged after being laid by the adult female dogfish are doomed to perish. Some, if not most, of the capsules are empty. However, on many occasions I have found a live embryo inside, some of them nearly ready to break free from the capsule. ”  According to Shark Trust:  “Each eggcase contains one embryo which will develop over several months into a miniature shark, skate or ray. Once empty, the eggcases often wash ashore and can be found among the strandline on beaches.”

Subject: Mantid eating a minnow
Location: Evergreen Park, IL
November 23, 2013 1:36 pm
I always bring some mantids in before a hard freeze and then put the oothecae outside to help ensure future generations(usually after mating, the first three ootheca will be fertile but none afterward). The females can get quite hungry after laying their ootheca and will gladly eat a minnow. I don’t think you’ll see that in the wild though 🙂
Signature: Ozzy

Mantid eats Minnow

Mantid eats Minnow

Hi Ozzy,
Thanks for sending us your photo of a Mantis eating a Minnow in captivity.  Your comment about the unlikeliness of seeing this in the wild struck a chord with us.  Just yesterday, while working in the yard, we thought about how man has affected the evolution of the creatures around us.  Often when we think of evolution, people get wrapped up in the origin of new species, but appearance and behavior of existing species also constitutes a type of evolution.  Since many insects, including many Mantids, only live a single season, it is possible to witness an evolutionary change during a single person’s life span.  If you continued to feed minnows to Mantids, and then included a bowl of water containing live minnows in your habitat, the Mantids might eventually learn to fish for those minnows.  Subsequent offspring might eventually carry the gene that includes the instinct to fish, and when those individuals are then released into the wild, they might eventually spawn a population of Fishing Mantids.  We realize this is a very far fetched scenario, however, we do believe that nurture affects nature.

Unsure of type of creature found in San Diego, Ca area
Location: Mission Bay San Diego, Ca.
October 18, 2011 11:07 pm
Hello! I am hoping you can help me. I was in San Diego visiting my family and the kids were playing in the water at Mission Bay in San Diego. They found an interesting creature. They called it a Sea Horse when they were presenting it to us. However, as you can see this really isn’t a sea horse, even though it has a face like one. It’s body is rough and seems to be rigid. I have no idea what it is, do you know?
Signature: Hayes Girls


Dear Hayes Girls,
You found a Pipefish in the family Syngnathidae which also includes Sea Horses.  Here is a link to Aquatic Community with some information.  There is a wealth of other information on Pipefish on the internet.

Ocean City MD
I found several of these washed up on the beach in Ocean City, Maryland at the end of December, 2007. Can you tell me what it is?
Mo Riddle

Hi Mo,
Though it isn’t a bug, we couldn’t resist posting your image of a Mermaid’s Purse, a very lyrical name for a Shark Egg Case. We are not sure of the species, but suspect it is a Dogfish. The Monterey Bay Aquarium website states: “Some sharks package their young in leathery egg cases, then abandon them at sea. Nourished by their yolk-filled egg sacs, the young sharks, called pups, develop on their own. After several months, one edge of the case comes apart and the tiny sharks emerge, alive and swimming. Occasionally egg cases wash up on beaches before the sharks inside can hatch. Beachcombers may know the pillow