Cuckoo Rays spotted washed up on Scarborough's beaches

Members of the public have noticed several flat fish washed up on Scarborough's beaches recently.

By Corinne Macdonald
Friday, 31st January 2020, 12:06 pm
Updated Friday, 31st January 2020, 12:28 pm

Jayne King found the fish, pictured, on North Bay when on a dog walk yesterday (January 30).

The flat, pale fish has been identified as a Cuckoo ray, which have two dark, false eyespots on their backs.

Cuckoo rays can grow up to 75cm are found from the north of the UK and southern Norway down the Atlantic coast and North Sea into the west end of the Mediterranean.

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A cuckoo skate found on Scarborough's North Bay. Picture by Jayne King

Though unusual to find Cuckoo rays on our beaches, as they prefer sandy, muddy seabeds, they can become stranded in small pools or raised sand as the tide goes out.

However people that come across the fish may be able to help them.

Todd German, head aquarist at Sea Life Scarborough, said: "People are find to pop them back in the sea, they just need to be careful of spikes on their tail.

"[The spikes] aren't poisonous but it's like being pricked by a rose thorn.

"[The rays] can survive out of water for short periods when it's clod and wet like it is at the minute."

Cuckoo Rays

The Cuckoo ray feeds using crushing plates that act as teeth in its mouth.

It exists mainly on a diet of small crustaceans and worms but sometimes eats fish.

Younger creatures are more often found further out to sea while adults are more likely to be found closer to the shoreline.

Although it is commonly called the Cuckoo ray, it is actually a species of skate (sometimes known as the Cuckoo skate).

Skates and rays are closely related and look similar, but you can spot the difference by looking at the tail.

Skates have a short tail with small fins and no stinging capabilities, whereas rays have a long whip-like tail.