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Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge

4005 Sandpiper Road Virginia Beach, VA 23456

757- 721-2412

Region: Sandbridge, Virginia Beach

Description

Established in 1938, this 8,000-acre fresh water refuge borders the Atlantic Ocean on the east and Back Bay on the west. The barrier islands feature large sand dunes, maritime forests, fresh water marshes, ponds, ocean beach, and large impoundments for wintering wildfowl. These tranquil habitats can be accessed by marsh trails, bikes, a boardwalk overlook, and the beach itself. Back Bay is located approximately 18 miles south of the resort area. Back Bay Tram Tours run from April 1st and continue through October 31st. Please contact us for further information. Back Bay Sunset

PHOTOS

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Handling of wildlife at Back Bay NWR is prohibited, both for the safety of visitors and the safety of wildlife. The wildlife refuge is a place that has been set aside as habitat for snakes, frogs, turtles, birds and other wildlife. Humans are visitors to this landscape and must treat the land and wildlife with respect. Follow refuge regulations while visiting to maintain a safe place for all to enjoy. For more information please refer to the website or hard copies of the refuge map, which can be found at the entrance station or by the front door of the Visitor Center. https://www.fws.gov/refuge/Back_Bay/visit/rules_and_regulations.html
We have received a number of questions lately concerning fees. How much does it cost to enter the refuge? What pass options do I have? These are excellent questions which we will address today in #BBFAQs. First though - no fees are being charged at national wildlife refuges at this time, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Passes are also not available for sale at this time. The information in this post refers to normal operations. The fee season at Back Bay NWR runs from April 1 - October 31. No fees are charged from November 1 - March 31. Currently we can only accept cash or check as forms of payment. Daily entrance to refuge is $5.00/vehicle or $2.00/hiker or biker group. An annual pass is also available for $15.00. The pass is valid for an entire year (until the end of the month of purchase the following year). We also sell and honor a variety of passes which cover the entrance fee. If you are a holder of the Federal Duck Stamp your entrance fee is covered to all national wildlife refuges in the country. Additionally, you may use an America the Beautiful Federal Recreational Lands Pass. There are six options for these passes, detailed below. All six cover entrance fees to any federal land in the country. 1) National Annual: anyone can purchase; $80 2) Military Annual: available for active military and dependents; FREE 3) Access Pass - Lifetime: available for U.S. citizens with a permanent disability; FREE 4) Senior Annual: must be 62+ years; $20 5) Senior Lifetime: must be 62+ years: $80 6) Every Kid Outdoors 4th Grade Pass: for 4th graders who complete activities on www.everykidoutdoors.gov and print off a voucher We are a national wildlife refuge and not a state park so Virginia State Park passes do not cover entrance, including passes on receipts from REI. Also, a note about our neighbors to the south - if you hike or bike through the refuge to False Cape State Park there is no fee once you reach that state park. store.usgs.gov/recreational-passes
Poison ivy is a flowering plant that can cause an allergic reaction in many people through physical contact with the oil on its leaves or stem. The oil, called urushiol, is a sticky, long-lasting oil that can cause itchiness, redness, and a blistering rash. Just brushing up against the leaves can leave oil residue on clothing, gear, and skin. The best way to identify poison ivy is its cluster of three leaflets and hairy vines. Each compound leaf, or group of three leaflets, grows on an individual stem that connects to the main vine. This vine is often seen growing up trees, but sometimes grows as a shrub and even as groundcover in forests. Poison ivy is normally found in wooded areas, especially at edges, where the tree line ends with an opening or field. In the Mid-Atlantic region, this vine can be found in urban areas as well. The most common ways to treat the allergic reaction to poison ivy include calamine lotion and anti-itch creams, but some extreme reactions require medical care. As a safe rule of thumb remember this - “Leaves of three, let it be.”
We would like to give a big shout out and THANK YOU to the visitors who have helped us keep the refuge clean and trash free! Our Law Enforcement Officer noticed your efforts of picking up and removing trash from refuge grounds following the crazy weather of this week. We don't know who you are but please know we appreciate your efforts and assistance!
In anticipation of the holiday weekend and the "start of summer" we will cover beach activities at Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge during today's #BBFAQs. Hiking, biking, fishing, kayaking/canoeing, wildlife observation and wildlife photography are all permitted on refuge grounds, including the refuge beach. Sunbathing, surfing and playing in the water/sand are not permitted. National wildlife refuges support wildlife dependent recreation, or activities that connect visitors to the wildlife resources a particular refuge was established to provide and protect. Different refuges have different situations, resources and wildlife so you will find some variation among refuges. Back Bay NWR is located right next to the public beaches at Sandbridge so in our area there are locations for everyone to enjoy their preferred beach activities, whether looking for a day in the sun or a long beach hike. Thank you for your support and assistance in keeping the refuge a place for both wildlife and people!
Several of our visitors have seen coyotes in recent weeks. During the spring, many young mammals are "kicked out" by their parents. Mammals tend to exhibit significant parental care, leading to this springtime emigration from the family unit, when new young require the parents’ undivided attention. If you see a coyote do not panic. Most wildlife have an instinctive fear of humans and will run from you. Remember - we humans are larger than coyotes and therefore threatening. If the coyote does not run away, the best course of action is to walk away, in the direction you came. This gives the animal space and a chance to leave on its own accord. Why didn’t the coyote run away? There are a few possible answers to this question. For some reason the natural fear is diminished or not present. It could be that a young animal does not yet understand the way of the world because it has recently struck out on its own. It could also be that the animal has been fed by humans and grown accustomed to their presence. Very rarely it could mean the animal is sick, but other abnormal behaviors, such as unfocused eyes or an unnatural gait would also be present. Feeding wildlife, such as coyotes and bobcats, can be detrimental to the health of these animals and potentially dangerous to humans. When an animal, like a coyote, is fed, it associates humans with food and loses its natural fear. This loss of natural fear can lead to wildlife-human interactions where the wildlife "demand" food and/or become aggressive to get what they want or need. Additionally, the food humans give is not natural, healthy food for the animal and could be harmful for their health and well-being. It is important for us all to remember that wildlife are wild. They are fully equipped and capable of finding the resources they need to survive. It is always best for us to observe them from a distance and enjoy those precious and rare glimpses of wildness. PHOTO CREDIT: Danielle Von Wormer
You may find skate egg cases washed up on the shore. Skates are related to stingrays and sharks. Usually these cases have already hatched when they wash ashore. A skate egg case fresh from the ocean will be soft and bend in your fingers. One that has been on the beach, drying in the sun, will be hard and brittle, almost resembling plastic.
If you have visited the refuge in the last two months you have likely noticed it is a very busy place. We are happy to have the refuge grounds open and available as a place for safe outdoor recreation during this time. We do need your help, however. All visitors should adhere to CDC guidelines governing social distancing while recreating on the refuge. Additionally, all refuge regulations must be followed at all times, including remaining on trail and fishing in designated locations (dock by parking area, D-Pool and the beach). The refuge has reached capacity when the parking lot is full. Do not park along the road by the Kuralt Trail or in the grass. Thank you for keeping the refuge safe for all visitors!
What can we do to help endangered species? It may seem like the problem is too large for us as individuals, families or communities. But that is not so - you can make a difference! We can plant native plants and avoid invasive plants in our yards or apartment container gardens. Native plants support natural ecosystems and provide habitat for pollinators. Many pollinators are food for birds so you can help a whole food chain in this way! Conserving water and minimizing or eliminating pesticide and herbicide use are also great ways to help endangered species and ecosystems as a whole. Remember - anything we put down on the land ends up in a stream, creek or river. For more ideas listen to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's "How You Can Help" podcast. The podcast is a few years old but these strategies are still very relevant today! https://www.fws.gov/endangered/esday/index.html?utm_medium=email&utm_source=govdelivery
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Monday June 1st, 2020

Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge

June is World Oceans Month! To kick off this month let's showcase one of the special ocean animals that visit Virginia during the summer - sea turtles!

Five of the world’s seven species of sea turtles have been documented in the coastal waters of Virginia. Of these, the loggerhead is special - it is the most common nesting sea turtle in the state.

One hundred eggs or more can be found in each nest, laid by mother sea turtles under the cover of darkness. After an incubation period of around sixty days, hatchlings (baby turtles) must make their way from the nest to the ocean while avoiding predators such as ghost crabs. Once in the ocean they forage on crabs, clams, fish, jellyfish, shrimp, and whelks.

Loggerheads are listed as a threatened species under the U.S. Endangered Species Act. It is illegal to disturb live sea turtles or possess sea turtle parts, like shells or skulls. Sea turtles face many challenges, including predation in both the nest and the ocean and fishing gear, balloons and trash.

Back Bay NWR partners with the Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center and local military installations to protect all sea turtle nests on the Virginia Beach coast. Patrols are conducted every morning during the nesting season and all nests are documented and caged for protection. When the estimated hatching date nears nest-sitters watch over the nest, ensuring that the hatchlings can safely crawl down the beach to the ocean. In our area, ghost crabs are the biggest threat to hatchlings.

We can help protect loggerhead sea turtles by reducing the amount of litter that goes into the ocean such as balloons and plastic bags. If you find a stranded sea turtle (a turtle that has washed ashore) call the Virginia Aquarium Stranding Response at 757-385-7575. The Aquarium has a facility to rehabilitate injured turtles and a program to learn more about sea turtles through necropsies of dead turtles. Thank you for helping in the efforts to conserve these creatures!
... See MoreSee Less

Comment on Facebook 212234002180960_3839896759414648

How does one volunteer for nest sitting?

Sunday May 31st, 2020

Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge

#LoveForVBThe virtual ceremony to pay tribute to the victims of the May 31, 2019 municipal center tragedy may be viewed at www.LoveForVB.com, VBTV (Cox ch. 48; Verizon ch. 45) and www.youtube.com/user/VirginiaBeachTV on Sunday, May 31 at 4:06 p.m. ... See MoreSee Less

#LoveForVB

Saturday May 30th, 2020

Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge

Handling of wildlife at Back Bay NWR is prohibited, both for the safety of visitors and the safety of wildlife.

The wildlife refuge is a place that has been set aside as habitat for snakes, frogs, turtles, birds and other wildlife. Humans are visitors to this landscape and must treat the land and wildlife with respect.

Follow refuge regulations while visiting to maintain a safe place for all to enjoy. For more information please refer to the website or hard copies of the refuge map, which can be found at the entrance station or by the front door of the Visitor Center.

www.fws.gov/refuge/Back_Bay/visit/rules_and_regulations.html
... See MoreSee Less

Handling of wildlife at Back Bay NWR is prohibited, both for the safety of visitors and the safety of wildlife. The wildlife refuge is a place that has been set aside as habitat for snakes, frogs, turtles, birds and other wildlife. Humans are visitors to this landscape and must treat the land and wildlife with respect. Follow refuge regulations while visiting to maintain a safe place for all to enjoy. For more information please refer to the website or hard copies of the refuge map, which can be found at the entrance station or by the front door of the Visitor Center. https://www.fws.gov/refuge/Back_Bay/visit/rules_and_regulations.html

Comment on Facebook Handling of wildlife...

Are there very many reports of snake bites there? I can't wait to come back but it won't be in shorts and flip flops 🙂 there were snakes everywhere I turned. And beautiful water birds.

You or anyone would be foolish to handle a snake with a head shaped like that.

Good point that we are the visitors in our NWR’s. They have a very specific mission and are not National Parks.

Found this snake in our back deck in Sandbridge yesterday- copperhead?

What kind of snake is this?

What kind of snake is this? It’s a big one!

Northern brown water snake.

That's a water danger noodle. I see lots of these babies while kayaking. They have a tendency of sunning themselves in tree branches, so fellow kayakers beware.

Cotton mouth water moccasin

Terry Walters Warner don’t pick any of these up ok?

Mary Wright

Torrey Cook Ryan Paul Rose 😳

Found this snake in our back deck in Sandbridge yesterday- copperhead?

View more comments

Friday May 29th, 2020

Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge

We have received a number of questions lately concerning fees. How much does it cost to enter the refuge? What pass options do I have?

These are excellent questions which we will address today in #bbfaqs. First though - no fees are being charged at national wildlife refuges at this time, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Passes are also not available for sale at this time. The information in this post refers to normal operations.

The fee season at Back Bay NWR runs from April 1 - October 31. No fees are charged from November 1 - March 31. Currently we can only accept cash or check as forms of payment. Daily entrance to refuge is $5.00/vehicle or $2.00/hiker or biker group. An annual pass is also available for $15.00. The pass is valid for an entire year (until the end of the month of purchase the following year).

We also sell and honor a variety of passes which cover the entrance fee. If you are a holder of the Federal Duck Stamp your entrance fee is covered to all national wildlife refuges in the country. Additionally, you may use an America the Beautiful Federal Recreational Lands Pass. There are six options for these passes, detailed below. All six cover entrance fees to any federal land in the country.

1) National Annual: anyone can purchase; $80
2) Military Annual: available for active military and dependents; FREE
3) Access Pass - Lifetime: available for U.S. citizens with a permanent disability; FREE
4) Senior Annual: must be 62+ years; $20
5) Senior Lifetime: must be 62+ years: $80
6) Every Kid Outdoors 4th Grade Pass: for 4th graders who complete activities on www.everykidoutdoors.gov and print off a voucher

We are a national wildlife refuge and not a state park so Virginia State Park passes do not cover entrance, including passes on receipts from REI. Also, a note about our neighbors to the south - if you hike or bike through the refuge to False Cape State Park there is no fee once you reach that state park.

store.usgs.gov/recreational-passes
... See MoreSee Less

We have received a number of questions lately concerning fees. How much does it cost to enter the refuge? What pass options do I have? These are excellent questions which we will address today in #BBFAQs. First though - no fees are being charged at national wildlife refuges at this time, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Passes are also not available for sale at this time. The information in this post refers to normal operations. The fee season at Back Bay NWR runs from April 1 - October 31. No fees are charged from November 1 - March 31. Currently we can only accept cash or check as forms of payment. Daily entrance to refuge is $5.00/vehicle or $2.00/hiker or biker group. An annual pass is also available for $15.00. The pass is valid for an entire year (until the end of the month of purchase the following year). We also sell and honor a variety of passes which cover the entrance fee. If you are a holder of the Federal Duck Stamp your entrance fee is covered to all national wildlife refuges in the country. Additionally, you may use an America the Beautiful Federal Recreational Lands Pass. There are six options for these passes, detailed below. All six cover entrance fees to any federal land in the country. 1) National Annual: anyone can purchase; $80 2) Military Annual: available for active military and dependents; FREE 3) Access Pass - Lifetime: available for U.S. citizens with a permanent disability; FREE 4) Senior Annual: must be 62+ years; $20 5) Senior Lifetime: must be 62+ years: $80 6) Every Kid Outdoors 4th Grade Pass: for 4th graders who complete activities on www.everykidoutdoors.gov and print off a voucher We are a national wildlife refuge and not a state park so Virginia State Park passes do not cover entrance, including passes on receipts from REI. Also, a note about our neighbors to the south - if you hike or bike through the refuge to False Cape State Park there is no fee once you reach that state park. store.usgs.gov/recreational-passes

Thursday May 28th, 2020

Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge

Poison ivy is a flowering plant that can cause an allergic reaction in many people through physical contact with the oil on its leaves or stem. The oil, called urushiol, is a sticky, long-lasting oil that can cause itchiness, redness, and a blistering rash. Just brushing up against the leaves can leave oil residue on clothing, gear, and skin.

The best way to identify poison ivy is its cluster of three leaflets and hairy vines. Each compound leaf, or group of three leaflets, grows on an individual stem that connects to the main vine. This vine is often seen growing up trees, but sometimes grows as a shrub and even as groundcover in forests. Poison ivy is normally found in wooded areas, especially at edges, where the tree line ends with an opening or field. In the Mid-Atlantic region, this vine can be found in urban areas as well. The most common ways to treat the allergic reaction to poison ivy include calamine lotion and anti-itch creams, but some extreme reactions require medical care.

As a safe rule of thumb remember this - “Leaves of three, let it be.”
... See MoreSee Less

Poison ivy is a flowering plant that can cause an allergic reaction in many people through physical contact with the oil on its leaves or stem. The oil, called urushiol, is a sticky, long-lasting oil that can cause itchiness, redness, and a blistering rash. Just brushing up against the leaves can leave oil residue on clothing, gear, and skin. The best way to identify poison ivy is its cluster of three leaflets and hairy vines. Each compound leaf, or group of three leaflets, grows on an individual stem that connects to the main vine. This vine is often seen growing up trees, but sometimes grows as a shrub and even as groundcover in forests. Poison ivy is normally found in wooded areas, especially at edges, where the tree line ends with an opening or field. In the Mid-Atlantic region, this vine can be found in urban areas as well. The most common ways to treat the allergic reaction to poison ivy include calamine lotion and anti-itch creams, but some extreme reactions require medical care. As a safe rule of thumb remember this - “Leaves of three, let it be.”

Comment on Facebook Poison ivy is a ...

Please don’t confuse Virginia Creeper for poison ivy!!

What is the best method to remove poison ivy from a tree?

Don’t forget that many birds love the berries!

Itching just looking at that! 😳

I have NEVER seen poison ivy flower?

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Monday May 25th, 2020

Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge

On Memorial Day, we honor those who have fallen in the service of our nation. Across the country, memorials, cemeteries and battlefields help remind us of the extraordinary sacrifices made to keep us united and free. All gave some, some gave all. Few places evoke a more powerful connection to the lost than the Vietnam Veterans Memorial on the National Mall and Memorial Parks in Washington, D.C. Photo by Richard Paige (www.sharetheexperience.org). ... See MoreSee Less

Saturday May 23rd, 2020

Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge

We would like to give a big shout out and THANK YOU to the visitors who have helped us keep the refuge clean and trash free!

Our Law Enforcement Officer noticed your efforts of picking up and removing trash from refuge grounds following the crazy weather of this week. We don't know who you are but please know we appreciate your efforts and assistance!
... See MoreSee Less

We would like to give a big shout out and THANK YOU to the visitors who have helped us keep the refuge clean and trash free! Our Law Enforcement Officer noticed your efforts of picking up and removing trash from refuge grounds following the crazy weather of this week. We dont know who you are but please know we appreciate your efforts and assistance!

Friday May 22nd, 2020

Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge

In anticipation of the holiday weekend and the "start of summer" we will cover beach activities at Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge during today's #BBFAQs.

Hiking, biking, fishing, kayaking/canoeing, wildlife observation and wildlife photography are all permitted on refuge grounds, including the refuge beach.

Sunbathing, surfing and playing in the water/sand are not permitted.

National wildlife refuges support wildlife dependent recreation, or activities that connect visitors to the wildlife resources a particular refuge was established to provide and protect. Different refuges have different situations, resources and wildlife so you will find some variation among refuges. Back Bay NWR is located right next to the public beaches at Sandbridge so in our area there are locations for everyone to enjoy their preferred beach activities, whether looking for a day in the sun or a long beach hike.

Thank you for your support and assistance in keeping the refuge a place for both wildlife and people!
... See MoreSee Less

In anticipation of the holiday weekend and the start of summer we will cover beach activities at Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge during todays #BBFAQs. Hiking, biking, fishing, kayaking/canoeing, wildlife observation and wildlife photography are all permitted on refuge grounds, including the refuge beach. Sunbathing, surfing and playing in the water/sand are not permitted. National wildlife refuges support wildlife dependent recreation, or activities that connect visitors to the wildlife resources a particular refuge was established to provide and protect. Different refuges have different situations, resources and wildlife so you will find some variation among refuges. Back Bay NWR is located right next to the public beaches at Sandbridge so in our area there are locations for everyone to enjoy their preferred beach activities, whether looking for a day in the sun or a long beach hike. Thank you for your support and assistance in keeping the refuge a place for both wildlife and people!

Comment on Facebook In anticipation of ...

Will anybody be at the gate to control the parking flow? Enforcing the payment will deter those who have been abusing the open access to this beach.

No pets too

Thursday May 21st, 2020

Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge

Several of our visitors have seen coyotes in recent weeks. During the spring, many young mammals are "kicked out" by their parents. Mammals tend to exhibit significant parental care, leading to this springtime emigration from the family unit, when new young require the parents’ undivided attention.

If you see a coyote do not panic. Most wildlife have an instinctive fear of humans and will run from you. Remember - we humans are larger than coyotes and therefore threatening.

If the coyote does not run away, the best course of action is to walk away, in the direction you came. This gives the animal space and a chance to leave on its own accord. Why didn’t the coyote run away? There are a few possible answers to this question. For some reason the natural fear is diminished or not present. It could be that a young animal does not yet understand the way of the world because it has recently struck out on its own. It could also be that the animal has been fed by humans and grown accustomed to their presence. Very rarely it could mean the animal is sick, but other abnormal behaviors, such as unfocused eyes or an unnatural gait would also be present.

Feeding wildlife, such as coyotes and bobcats, can be detrimental to the health of these animals and potentially dangerous to humans. When an animal, like a coyote, is fed, it associates humans with food and loses its natural fear. This loss of natural fear can lead to wildlife-human interactions where the wildlife "demand" food and/or become aggressive to get what they want or need. Additionally, the food humans give is not natural, healthy food for the animal and could be harmful for their health and well-being.

It is important for us all to remember that wildlife are wild. They are fully equipped and capable of finding the resources they need to survive. It is always best for us to observe them from a distance and enjoy those precious and rare glimpses of wildness.

PHOTO CREDIT: Danielle Von Wormer
... See MoreSee Less

Several of our visitors have seen coyotes in recent weeks. During the spring, many young mammals are kicked out by their parents. Mammals tend to exhibit significant parental care, leading to this springtime emigration from the family unit, when new young require the parents’ undivided attention. If you see a coyote do not panic. Most wildlife have an instinctive fear of humans and will run from you. Remember - we humans are larger than coyotes and therefore threatening. If the coyote does not run away, the best course of action is to walk away, in the direction you came. This gives the animal space and a chance to leave on its own accord. Why didn’t the coyote run away? There are a few possible answers to this question. For some reason the natural fear is diminished or not present. It could be that a young animal does not yet understand the way of the world because it has recently struck out on its own. It could also be that the animal has been fed by humans and grown accustomed to their presence. Very rarely it could mean the animal is sick, but other abnormal behaviors, such as unfocused eyes or an unnatural gait would also be present. Feeding wildlife, such as coyotes and bobcats, can be detrimental to the health of these animals and potentially dangerous to humans. When an animal, like a coyote, is fed, it associates humans with food and loses its natural fear. This loss of natural fear can lead to wildlife-human interactions where the wildlife demand food and/or become aggressive to get what they want or need. Additionally, the food humans give is not natural, healthy food for the animal and could be harmful for their health and well-being. It is important for us all to remember that wildlife are wild. They are fully equipped and capable of finding the resources they need to survive. It is always best for us to observe them from a distance and enjoy those precious and rare glimpses of wildness. PHOTO CREDIT: Danielle Von Wormer

Comment on Facebook Several of our ...

Saw this on e this morning just past the entrance around the curve

Looks like he is mad he didnt catch that road runner! Lol gorgeous animal though ❤

I saw one at little island park the other day, making its way back to the refuge 🙂

Thanks for reminding people not to feed them!

Coyotes kill pets. Don't leave cat or dogs outside alone. All areas don't have coyotes, we do in NE Georgia.

I have a sister that could use a lesson by Mr & Mrs Coyote... 2 grads living at home for 2+ years...

They also decimate fox populations

Judith Anderson

C g bff b

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Monday May 18th, 2020

Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge

You may find skate egg cases washed up on the shore. Skates are related to stingrays and sharks. Usually these cases have already hatched when they wash ashore.

A skate egg case fresh from the ocean will be soft and bend in your fingers. One that has been on the beach, drying in the sun, will be hard and brittle, almost resembling plastic.
... See MoreSee Less

You may find skate egg cases washed up on the shore. Skates are related to stingrays and sharks. Usually these cases have already hatched when they wash ashore. A skate egg case fresh from the ocean will be soft and bend in your fingers. One that has been on the beach, drying in the sun, will be hard and brittle, almost resembling plastic.

Comment on Facebook You may find skate ...

Commonly called Mermaid purses.🧜‍♀️

My kids love to find these!

We called them mermaid's purse.

We called them Devil's Pocketbooks.

Ryan Paul Rose

Jim Warner

View more comments

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