I felt like this subject needed its own blog post because it is so unusual. The prompt is On The Beach, so I painted this leathery, tendrilled curiosity. We find them washed up on the beach almost every year while on vacation.
It is called a mermaid’s purse, which sounds much better than saying it is an empty egg case of a skate (a kind of ray/fish). Some sharks also have similar-looking egg cases. Eggs are laid in this small pouch made of collagen proteins that protect the developing embryo for up to 12 weeks. At that point, the skate will have grown into a fully developed and independent juvenile, ready to take on the ocean. The long tendrils at the corners anchor the cases onto vegetation on the ocean floor to keep it hidden and safe from predators.
To show more detail, this was painted about twice the size of the dried cases we find in North Carolina. I hope you enjoyed this little synopsis of a fascinating beach novelty.