Have you ever worried about the sharks in Morro Bay? There is even an area called Shark Inlet!
Morro Bay does indeed have sharks, but they aren’t the kind people are afraid of. Horn Sharks are slow moving, about three feet long, and they hide under kelp or ledges during the day. Usually living in shallow water less than 40 feet deep, they hunt at night for smaller animals that live on the seafloor. They especially like sea urchins and crabs.
The teeth of Horn Sharks are unusual for a shark. Teeth in the front of the jaws are sharp for grabbing prey; teeth in the back are flat like molars for crushing the shells of their prey.
Females lay spiral egg cases, which they wedge into crevices—this makes the egg cases stay put, safer from predators. Each egg case contains one pup, which takes between six and nine months to hatch. If you look carefully you may be able to see where the baby shark got out of the back of the egg case.
You are not likely to see a Horn Shark—they hide, and they are the same color as the seafloor. But you may find an empty egg case along the shore.
Big Skates are flat fish that live on the sandy bottom. They have two large, dark spots on their fins, which resemble large eyes. Scientists think these “eyes’ might confuse predators or make a small skate look larger and less vulnerable to a hungry shark. The mouth is on the bottom and the skate breathes through spiracle slits behind its eyes.
These gentle fish are often in petting tanks in big aquaria.
The skates hide in the sand and mud along the seafloor, with only their eyes sticking up above the sand. Their gray, mottled bodies blend into the background of the seafloor. They eat clams, worms, shrimp, and some fish.
Big Skates live mainly from the Aleutian Islands south to Santa Barbara. Some Big Skate grow to be seven feet long and can live about 15 years.
Baby skates develop in egg cases called mermaids’ purses. They may contain several baby skates.