Museum officials have identified a strange sea creature whose remains were recently located on New Zealand’s Waitarere Beach.
Veterinarian Maria Lombard uploaded to Facebook photos of the fascinatingly long creature’s remains, which garnered significant local media attention:
Lombard used a measuring tape to size up her unexpected find, which was over 2 meters, or 6.5 feet, long.
In a follow-up tweet, curators from the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa revealed that the cartilaginous mass once comprised the brain case and vertebrae of a New Zealand smooth skate (Dipturus innominatus), a bottom-dwelling animal found throughout the waters surrounding the island nation.
The IUCN currently considers the species Near Threatened, as it is often caught by trawl fisheries as bycatch. While the species is relatively abundant, it reproduces slowly and is frequently caught before reaching sexual maturity, making it more vulnerable to the impacts of overfishing.
Sent in for ID by Maria Lombard, found at Waitarere: Remains of a smooth skate, Dipturus innominatus. pic.twitter.com/tQdQg2Tj5l
— Te Papa (@Te_Papa) February 9, 2016
Photo credit Facebook account Maria Lombard