A mermaid’s purse


We spent the weekend at our home away from home Easter weekend.

It was a breath of fresh air after burning up the roads the last few months.

I was laying in my chair reading a magazine late Saturday, (for probably the first time in 6 months), when Nicholas and Austin came running down the beach toward me screaming –

“Mom, it’s life or death! Kinda.”

People were staring. I could have killed them dead right then.

Fortunately, it wasn’t their lives they were referring to.


They had a ‘baby stingray’ laying on their skim board.


Nicholas had found a egg casing, known as a mermaid’s purse, washed up on the beach.


He picked it up and, I’m assuming from the pressure he applied to it, out popped the baby stingray – head first.


Typically when the egg casings are found on the beach, they are empty – the fish have already hatched. This wasn’t the case.

Nicholas said, “I was the first one he saw when he was born! He probably thinks I’m his momma!” <<< silly boy


Thanks to Google, we started searching how rays are born. The two YouTube videos we watched (yes, as we sat on the beach) showed the babies being born straight from the mom.

No egg casing. Nothing.

The more we searched, we learned what we had in our hands (literally) was a skate.


And thankfully, skates are completely harmless to humans and can be handled without fear – unlike that good ole’ man-o-war.


To the surprise of many onlookers, the boys carefully returned the skate to the water.
A couple commented that they expected the boys to want to keep it.


Thankfully, our kids respect {most} critters and treat them as they should.
I just wish they treated each other as gently some days.

By midnight on Easter-Eve, we had learned a few of the differences in a stingray and a skate::


Typically, stingrays are kite-shaped and have streamlined tails with one or more barbs. Skates tend to be roundish or triangular in shape, with heavier, fleshier tails that have small fins toward the end.

Skates typically range in size from 16 inches to 5 feet in length. Rays can grow to a width of 22 feet and weigh several tons.

Defense mechanism
A stingray have a stinging barb in its tail to use against predators. Skates don’t have barbs; they rely on thorn-like formations on their backs and tails to deter predators

Skates lay leathery egg cases, often called “mermaid purses.” Rays give birth to live young.



Other resources for facts about skates and rays::


12 Comment

  1. Ticia
    says: Reply

    My son saw the pictures and was desperately hoping that when we go to the beach next we would find one and I would let them keep a manta ray……

  2. Heidi
    says: Reply

    What a great homeschool lesson that was!

  3. Ummm in the words of my boys “THATS SO COOOL”
    Don’t you love it when learning happens all around you! I love the world as our class room.
    by the way did you ever finish the magazine!) I’m guessing not!:)

  4. Karrie says: Reply

    I really need to go to the beach with your family! Ya’ll certainly stumble across some really cool stuff. Thanks for the lesson.

  5. So cool! I love how you pop out Google & YouTube on the beach for educational purposes! :)

  6. Susi says: Reply

    It’s amazing what you can learn by just being out in nature … and then googling it. :) Glad it was a skate and not a sting ray. My mom stepped on a ray once and it was not pretty!!! Love the pictures.

  7. So cool!!!!!

  8. Danielle says: Reply

    Awesome, love it … life in Florida, we are blessed!

  9. I can’t wait to show my daughters this later — they will be so envious! We were just in Outer Banks, NC, for spring break and they found and opened countless mermaid’s purses in hopes that there would be a baby skate inside. Especially after we learned about them at one of the lighthouse stations… Unfortunately they were all just filled with sand. They will be excited to learn that there is still a tiny possibility that someday they may make the same discovery as your family. Thanks for sharing and giving them a bit of hope! :)

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