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Explore the coastal and inland waters of
Washington and BC
Typical Size: 1-4’ width
ID: Blunt, rounded nose. One relative large spot on each wing.
Comments: I infrequently note the magnificent big skate. When I am fortunate enough to encounter this skate, it is usually while diving extensive soft and relatively flat substrates. Big skates can reportedly grow to 8' in width, although I have never seen one more than 36" in width. I obviously need to dive more.
Typical size: 2-4’ length
ID: Sharp, pointed nose. One small spot on each wing.
Comments: With it's pointy nose, the longnose skate is easy to discern from the big skate. I note longnose skates much more frequently than I do big skates. They seem to move into areas like Three Tree Point during certain times of the year (fall and/or winter). I have noted longnose skates as shallow as 15 feet and at depths over 100 feet.
Pacific Electric Ray
Typical size: up to 4.6' in length.
ID: Thick, round body. Full tail fin. Serious - there is nothing else like this in our waters.
Comments: Ranging from Baja to BC, these rays are a very rare sighting in WA and BC waters. Two kidney shaped organs within the ray can produce an electric charge up to 45V, which is enough to knock a man down and certain stun a fish. All marine life should be treated with resepct, this deserves extra merit as it carries a taser.
Big Skate Egg Case
Typical size: 4" length
ID: "H" shaped egg purse with a bulging middle. Yellow color.
Comments: I only occasionally note these egg cases attached to the substrate. This photo was taken while diving Possession Point Fingers in Puget Sound.
Typical size: 24” length
ID: Long slender tail, large eyes, rodent-like front teeth, gold-copper metallic skin with white spots. Sharp poisonous spine behind first dorsal.
Comments: Ratfish are commonly noted throughout all Washington waters, but they do tend to come and go. The ratfish swims gracefully with it oversized pectoral fins. Like dogfish, ratfish have a single and slightly venomous dorsal spine. Ratfish are sometimes called chimeara or rabbitfish.
Pacific Spiny Dogfish
Typical size: 24-48” length
ID: Slender body with two dorsal fins. Sharp spines on leading edge of each dorsal fin. Typically has a row of white spots along the side.
Comments: Scorned by fishermen, dogfish are a true spectacle underwater . I only occasionally note these sleek swimmers as they rest on the bottom or leisurely patrol a reef. On a couple of lucky occasions, I have witnessed dogfish rounding up herring. Dogfish have a slightly venomous and sharp spine on both dorsals.