What’s in a Mermaid’s Purse?

photo: E. Loury

Some lipstick, a hair brush…and oh look, a baby skate.  Colloquially known as “mermaid’s purses,” these structures are actually the egg cases of some sharks and skates.  The size of the one above, caught during a fish trawl survey,  is a dead give away that it came from a big skate (Raja binoculata) because it’s just so, well, big.   The adults can grow up to six feet long, and the largest described was just under eight feet.   Big skates are one of the few skate species that can have more than one embryo per egg case.  It could make a fetching clutch when the skates are done with it – you know, with something in hues of say seaweed and seashell…

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2 Responses to What’s in a Mermaid’s Purse?

  1. Danna Staaf says:

    Hehe. I love that “big skate” is a real common name. It made me realize we’re missing a “big squid” . . . why did we jump straight to jumbo, giant, colossal?


  2. erinloury says:

    I hate to say it, but maybe squid are suffering from a size complex… then again, I think “colossal” anything makes it automatically cool!


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