Sea Devils on Hilton Head Island

I’ve lived on Hilton Head all my life and have never seen a Sea Devil. One of our Windmill Habour Real Estate agents, Marguerite Carver, frequents Mitchelville beach. It’s one I’ve never really thought about visiting. My beach time is spent relaxing in a chair by the waterline. I think I’ll take the boys down to Mitchelville to do a little beach combing. Maybe we’ll find this illusive sea creature’s egg casing.

 

I grew up in NJ and spent every summer on Long Beach Island, specifically Beach Haven.  We fished, crabbed, clammed and collected shells.  My mother explained the names of creatures; one was of particular intrigue…..the Sea Devil.  I was left with the impression that this was a roguishly suspicious character and wondered at its prowling of the sea.  There were a lot of them on the beach in those days….that being the 1950’s.  I hadn’t seen any in recent years nor given them much thought until recently when I spotted one on Mitchelville Beach.  Just one lone Sea Devil.  With renewed interest I was surprised to discover that my “devil” was no mysterious creature at all but rather a very unique egg case.  Being of great appeal to many predators, skates protect each of their eggs in individual rectangular cases detailed with horns on each corner.   These tough black casings are made of keratin.  Pairs of “horns” adorn the ends and offer assistance in anchoring the vessel to the ocean bottom while at the same time providing for oxygen intake and waste release.  Clever multitasking!  Additional monikers include “mermaid’s purse”,” sailor’s purse” and “devil’s purse”.   Mom’s name for it might have been misleading but I like it best.
 
Marguerite Carver, GRI, CRS
(215)680-5650
(846)681-5600
 
 

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