CBS news reported today that Captain Mark Quartiano caught a rare deep-sea creature off the coast of Miami Beach that is absolutely huge! The animal is called a hookskate and at first glance it looks like a giant stingray. However it’s classified as part of the “Skate” family, so there is no barbed hook on the end of its tail.
Skates normally have tough, sharp-ish bumps on the top of their bodies to deter predators. Stingrays, close relatives of skates, have barbed tails.
The captain and his crew safely tagged and released the rare animal back into the ocean.
Science knows very little about the hookskate (Dactylobatus clarkii) but they believe it lives 1000 feet below the surface of the ocean, in and along the muddy ocean floors of the continental slope. They seem to be distributed in the western central Atlantic ocean and the northern Gulf of Mexico and off the northern South American coast.
Currently, scientists report their maximum size to be around 59 cm (nearly 2 feet) for a male, and 69 cm (about 2 ¼ feet) for a female. However, we can clearly see that these estimates must be wrong because of the size of the hookskate caught today (see photo at the top). It’s huge!
Well, the scientists will sort all the details eventually, but for now we can once again marvel at this mysterious monster from the deep – which until recently had technically been a cryptid, an animal unknown to science. (Photo to the right is by NOAA/NMFS/Mississippi Laboratory.)
I don’t know about you but I can’t wait to learn what else is down in the depths of our oceans! We’re living in a very exciting time.
Til the next time!