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New Jersey Scuba Diving

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New Jersey Scuba Diving

I'm looking for recent dive/fishing reports of the Radford. If you've been there in the last year or two, I'd like to hear what you found. In particular, where is the stern now? I can find no reports since 2012.

Skates & Rays

Fishes

Skates and rays are related to sharks. Unlike flounders, these fish are flattened and lie on their bellies. Skates are harmless. Stingrays have one or more dangerous barbed stingers in the tail, and will use them if molested. Finally, the Torpedo is an electric fish, and can generate enough voltage to be dangerous. Some skates give birth to live young, while others lay their eggs encased in a horned Mermaid's Purse.

Before you go messing with any of the fishes on this page, learn the differences. Some of them can make you very sorry.


Little Skate

Skates & Rays

Raja erinacea

Size: to 21" long

Habitat: Soft sandy bottoms, in depths from shallows to 300 ft.

Notes:
The commonest inshore skate. Short tail with two fins but no stinger. Winter Skate similar but larger, to 3 ft.




Fleeing a photographer.


Compare head and body shape with flounders.


download: Fishes of the Gulf of Maine


Clearnose Skate

Skates & Rays

Raja eglanteria

Size: to 31" long

Habitat: Soft sandy bottoms, in depths from shallows to 300 ft.

Notes:
The Clearnose Skate has a noticeably pointy nose compared to the Little Skate, with a semi-transparent patch on either side of the snout.



Note the more pointed snout than the Little Skate.


download: Fishes of the Gulf of Maine


Bluntnose Stingray

Skates & Rays

Dasyatis sayi

Size: to 3 ft across

Habitat: Soft sandy bottoms, depths from shallows to 1400 ft.

Notes:
Potentially dangerous

The commonest inshore ray. Long smooth whip-like tail with stinger but no fins. Roughtail Stingray similar but larger. Smaller Atlantic Stingray and larger Southern Stingray may occasionally stray this far north as well.

Stinger:These covered with poisonous mucous and backward-pointing barbs, like a fish hook. The greatest danger, however, is from infection. Injuries are common among surf fishermen in southern waters who accidentally step on the animals. An embedded stinger will not pull out, and generally must be removed by surgery. Otherwise, it will slowly work itself inward. Stingray wounds can take months to recover from.

With modern medicine, stingrays are not considered life-threatening to humans, and deaths are extremely rare. Australian "Crocodile Hunter" Steve Irwin was killed while snorkeling in 2006 by a stingray hit to the chest which pierced his heart. ( That ray was described as 8 feet long, estimated 220 lbs, with a barb probably 6-10 inches long. Our stingrays are much smaller. )

For the most part though, stingrays are mild and unaggressive creatures, as evidenced by "Stingray City" at Grand Cayman Island, where hundreds of swimmers and stingrays share the water without incident every day.



Loggerhead turtle with stingray barb and wound. The turtle recovered.


A large southern stingray allows itself to be handled at "Stingray City"


download: Fishes of the Gulf of Maine


Cownose Ray

Skates & Rays

Rhinoptera bonasus

Size: to 3 ft across

Habitat: Coastal

Notes:
Unlike the other fishes on this page, this is a free-swimming ray, often found near shore in large schools. They generally arrive en masse late in the season, and are otherwise uncommon.

These rays fly through the upper waters on flapping pectoral fins, sometimes even leaping out of the water, although they feed on mollusks near the bottom. They are a favorite food of sharks.

Bullnose Rays are similar, but with protruding rounded snouts. Southern Spotted Eagle Rays are closely related. All retain the stinger of their bottom-dwelling cousins.


download: Fishes of the Gulf of Maine


Atlantic Torpedo

Skates & Rays

Torpedo nobiliana

Size: to 6 ft long, 200 lbs., and 220 volts

Habitat: Soft sandy bottoms, from water's edge to 350 ft. Uncommon.

Notes:
Potentially dangerous

Distinguishing characteristics: Round body with short tail and no stingers. This fish can produce enough electricity to stun a swimmer, but it is usually unaggressive. They are uncommon, but deserve mention for the surprise they pack. I have seen unaware divers ( including a PADI "Underwater Naturalist" instructor ) get zapped in the tropics by the smaller ( 40 volts ) electric rays there.


download: Fishes of the Gulf of Maine


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Disclaimer:

I make no claim as to the accuracy, validity, or appropriateness of any information found in this website. I will not be responsible for the consequences of any action that is based upon information found here. Scuba diving is an adventure sport, and as always, you alone are responsible for your own safety and well being.

Copyright © 1996-2016 Rich Galiano
unless otherwise noted

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