Sunday, November 4, 2012

Torpedo Ray carcass at Ellis Landing, Brewster MA

Dead Torpedo Ray in Michael's truck.

This morning, Jane from IFAW's Marine Mammal Rescue and Research program called Krill about a possible dead ocean sunfish at Ellis Landing in Brewster, MA. Jane indicated that the town's shellfish officer had made the initial report of this carcass. With a rising tide, Krill worried that she would not be able to find the carcass by the time she drove down to the Cape. With this in mind, Krill contacted Michael Sprague from MA Audubon at Wellfleet Bay and asked if he could get to the carcass and pull it above the high tide line to secure it for later examination.  

Close-up of dead torpedo ray. 
Michael dropped everything and immediately headed towards Brewster. When he got on site, he was surprised to find a dead torpedo ray, not an ocean sunfish. Torpedo rays also strand on our New England beaches in the fall but their numbers are not as high as those we observe for ocean sunfish or sea turtles. So finding a fresh carcass like this one was a great find. 

With the help of friends, Michael dragged the carcass to his truck and headed to the Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary where Krill was to meet him. Krill had NECWA's portable weighing tripod in the truck and wanted to get an accurate weight on the carcass before it was put in the sanctuary's freezer for later examination. 

Carcass on a green tarp and net as we prepare it for weighing. 

Michael standing next to the torpedo ray.
Michael and Bob Prescott making sure the rigging is just right. 
Once back at the sanctuary, Director Bob Prescott helped unload, exam and weigh the torpedo ray carcass. This carcass weighed in close to 160 pounds which is lighter than most ocean sunfish, but still a good sized fish. 

Bob will be necropsying this carcass during Audubon's Marine Wildlife Stranding Field School this coming weekend. This is a weekend long course that MA Audubon at Wellfleet Bay offers each fall. Participants learn about the different marine animals that strand along our New England shore and participate in beach walks and animal necropsies. For more information, go to their website by clicking HERE.

So please keep a look-out for this unusual looking marine fish. If you see a stranded torpedo ray or sea turtle, immediately contact MA Audubon at Wellfleet Bay. If you see a stranded ocean sunfish, please call Krill at 508-566-0009. Thanks for your help.