In winter I get up at night And dress by yellow candle-light. In summer, quite the other way, I have to go to bed by day. I have to go to bed and see The birds still hopping on the tree, Or hear the grown-up people’s feet Still going past me in the street. And does it not seem hard to you, When all the sky is clear and blue, And I should like so much to play, To have to go to bed by day?
Who am I?
Am I a shark? People think I am when they see my fin sticking out of the water and they are afraid. Am I a voracious oyster eater -- killing all the young oysters that are trying to repopulate the Chesapeake or decimating the harvest of oyster growers? Maybe. I will eat oysters, but then I am older than humans and have always eaten oysters. Still, people hate me for this. Am I a vicious stingray like my cousins, like the one that killed that famous exuberant Australian guy? Absolutely not! I am, mostly, harmless to humans. I have a poisonous barb at the base of my tail that can be very painful if you step on it but other than I leave people alone.
In any case, I can get pretty big -- about 4 feet across my fins. I can get pretty heavy too, about 50 pounds. I am much bigger than the little skates that look like miniature versions of me. I can be easily identified by my wide head and "cownose" like appearance. Look for me swimming around in the shallow water.
I only have one baby a year. She hatches out inside me, eats her egg and then I send her nutrients while she is growing. After a year or so she will be born alive. I will give birth sometime during the month of June.
Where can you find me?
I can be found all along the east coast of the United States and the Gulf of Mexico. I am only present in the Chesapeake from around mid-May to October. When the water gets too cold I will head south.
What do I eat?
I eat mostly shellfish -- clams, mussels, oysters whelks, crabs. I use my wings to uncover the buried clams and then suck them up and crush them.
What might eat me?
Sharks. Sharks. Sharks. Oh, and cobia.
Cool reasons why I am the critter of the month!