Found a dragon-like sea creature discovered on New Zealand beach

Found a dragon-like sea creature discovered on New Zealand beach

Intriguing remains of a sea creature found bobbing in surf at Waitarere Beach near Levin have been identified.

Maria Lombard was walking along the water’s edge near Levin, New Zealand, when she came across a strange and mysterious sea creature bobbing in the surf. She took several photos and was perplexed as to their identity.

The curious find on the beach. Photo: MARIA LOMBARD/FACEBOOK

“It’s quite a bit like I think a dragon should look like if it was,” Lombard told Stuff.co.nz. “[It’s] just the head and its spine.”

It wasn’t a dragon, but it sure looked like a sea serpent or sea monster from mythology.

Lombard initially mistook the 6 1/2-foot sea creature for an eel, she wrote on Facebook. Curious, she set out to solve the mystery, so she contacted the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, which promptly responded.

In a tweet, Te Papa said it’s the “remains of a smooth skate, dipturus innominatus.” More specifically, it’s the brain case and vertebrae (backbone) of a smooth skate.

Maria Lombard’s mum Griet with the strange find. Photo: MARIA LOMBARD/FACEBOOK

The New Zealand smooth skate, which can grow to be nearly eight feet long, can be found at depths ranging from 50 to 4,200 feet, but rarely deeper than 2,600 feet. The species is found in all New Zealand waters.

The remains measure 2.08m. Photo: MARIA LOMBARD/FACEBOOK

The species is listed as near threatened by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) because trawl fishermen frequently catch them as bycatch.

What a smooth skate looks like. Photo: Courtesy of Clinton Duffy/Auckland Museum

Sadly, because females do not reach sexual maturity for 13 years, the species is more vulnerable to overfishing. Smooth skates can live for more than 24 years if they are not disturbed by trawlers.

Met

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