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Wednesday, September 25, 2013

A shocking discovery

We were walking along the inside of South Beach in Chatham today and discovered this unusual animal washed up on the sand.  You can see that it had the attention of both Eric and a young gull!

Here's a closer view from the side:

This is an Atlantic Torpedo Ray (Torpedo nobiliana).  I remembered that they sometimes strand on Cape Cod beaches in the fall, but I'm not sure if anyone has figured out why.  This individual was about 4 feet long.

Note the very circular shape and the relatively straight front edge of the disc.  The tail is short and the caudal fin (tail fin) is large and paddle-shaped (see below).

Torpedo rays are sometimes called electric rays.  They have electric organs that produce powerful electric shocks that stun their prey (primarily fish).

I found a couple of good fact sheets about Atlantic Torpedo Rays online.  If you're interested in learning more about them, check out the FLMNH Ichthyology Department web site or this page from The Shark Trust.

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