Herald reader Scott Logan sent us this photo of what he called a dead “manta ray” he found Jan. 1 on the west shore at Sandy Point.
He said the critter measured “3 to 4 feet across from wingtip to wingtip.”
We contacted the Marine Mammal Rescue Network in Friday Harbor for clarification and got this response from Pema Kitaeff, a marine technician with the University of Washington’s Friday Harbor Labs:
“As far as I know, manta rays don’t ever stray north past the 30th parallel … plus, if you Google an image of a manta ray, you’ll see it has two very distinctive ‘lobes’ on either side of its mouth, making the front of its ‘face’ look more blunt than other rays (like sting rays, etc.) that have a more distinctive triangular shape, like the one in this picture here.”
Kitaeff said the creature pictures is more likely a skate (Raja binoculata), not that uncommon in the Northwest and closely related taxonomically to the ratfish or dogfish. “I’ve never seen one of these diving, unfortunately, but I caught one fishing once!” Kitaeff said.