Mysterious sea creature remains wash up at Mystery Bay

Mysterious sea creature remains wash up at Mystery Bay BODY PART: The gelatinous, rubbery body part that looked like some kind of skull was found on the beach at Mystery Bay south of Narooma on December 5.
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BODY PART: The gelatinous, rubbery body part that looked like some kind of skull was found on the beach at Mystery Bay south of Narooma on December 5.

BODY PART: The gelatinous, rubbery body part that looked like some kind of skull was found on the beach at Mystery Bay south of Narooma on December 5.

One of the smooth or short-tail stingrays common in the Narooma area.

Typing ‘stingray neurocranium’ into Google shows any number of diagrams matching the mystery Mystery Bay body part.

TweetFacebookNarooma News Facebook page also a new fish identification service on the iNaturalist website.

Bermagui commercial fisherman Jason Moyce, who blogs under the name Trapman Bermagui, was one of thefirst to commentthat the object looked like it could be the skull of one of the large black smooth or short-tail stingrays common on the Far South Coast.

While the body partwas relatively large, so are the stingrays around Narooma and Bermagui, growing to 4.3 metres longand 2 metres wide and up to 350kg in weight.

This was backed up by renowned marine biologist and fishing writer Dr Julian Pepperell, who also saidit did “look like cartilage rather than bone, so more likely shark or ray, with similarities to various ray skull elements”.

This was further confirmedby Owen Li who works at the the Fishing and Fisheries Research Centre atJames Cook University in Townsville.

He posted that it appeared to bethe neurocranium of a large ray. “Typing ‘stingray neurocranium’ into Google shows any number of diagrams and photographs of the same skull element for multiple ray species.”

There was plenty of other speculation on the Narooma News Facebook page that it could be a cow’s head or even the nose or rostrum of a whale, but these ignored the fact it was soft cartilage and not bone.

Further clarification was sought through the new AustralasianFishes projecton the iNaturalist website where anyone can post photos of animals, plants or other natural objects can be identified by experts logged on to the site.

In this case the mystery object was uploaded under the heading of “elasmobranchs”, which denotes the class of sharks and rays, and the feedback came in immediately.

iNaturalist user adammyates suggested: “the big open dorsal fossa, down curved olfactory capsules and the lack of an obvious postorbital process make this look like a big ray skull to me”.

The Australasian Fishes project was set up by Mark McGrouther, collection manager ofichthyology at theAustralian Museum Research Institute.

He encourages anyone interested in fishes to upload their unknown or even favourite fish photostohttps://梧桐夜网inaturalist.org/projects/australasian-fishesto help build up the database.

“It allows anyoneto upload images of fishes, or parts of fishes,from anywhere in Australia and New Zealand. It’s quick and easy, and gives you access to a growing community including many fish scientists who identify and comment on fishy images,” Mr McGrouther said.

This is second natural mystery at Mystery Bay covered by this journalist in the past two weeks with the other being mysterious tracks identified as belonging to feral deer.

Narooma News

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