Latest Blog

The Ninja Lanternshark

The Ninja Lanternshark Etmopterus benchleyi Graduate student and lead author, Vicky Vásquez, decided to take an innovative approach to naming a new species of Lanternshark by incorporating outreach and her four little cousins (ages 8-14 yrs. old at the time). The short film you see here, “We Named a Shark”, tells the story of how

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Dr. Dave Ebert, Discoverer of new species!

Check out this article about Dr. Dave Ebert and how he manages to keep finding new species of elasmobranchs! Many of our students have side projects along with our theses and a majority of them are describing new species with Dr. Dave Ebert. Our lab prides itself in contributing in finding new species of elasmobranchs. Stay

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Featured Elasmobranch – Chilean Round Stingray

Photo Credit: Clay Bryce http://biogeodb.stri.si.edu/sftep/taxon_mod_largepic.php?id=181   Chilean Round Stingray  Urotrygon chilensis (Günther, 1871) Family Urotrygonidae   Identification: Disc wider than long, with a long slender tail; tail length greater than disc length.  A single large spine located at the tail base that is venomous.  Eyes large and set closely together.  Coloration is grayish to tan

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Featured Elasmobranch – Cortez Stingray

Photo Copyright: Amezuca Linares Cortez Stingray Urobatis maculatus (Garman, 1913) Family Urotrygonidae   Identification: Disc circular shape, with tail length equal to or slightly less than disc length, a long venomous spine originating at mid-tail on the dorsal side; snout angular, dorsal fins absent, and a well-developed caudal fin. Skin smooth. Dorsal color varies from brown

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Featured Elasmobranch – Golden Skate

Photo Copyright: Museum of Comparative Zoology, Harvard University   Golden Skate Bathyraja smirnovi (Soldatov & Pavlenko, 1915) Family Arhynchobatidae Identification: Distinguished from other members of the subgenus Arctoraja by absence of complete row of middorsal thorns; disc more than 1.1 times as wdie as long; anterior pelvic fin lobes moderately long, and tail length less

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Featured Elasmobranch – Lined Round Stingray

Photo Copyright:  Ross Robertson   Lined Round Stingray   Urotrygon rogersi (Jordan & Starks, 1895)   Family Urotrygonidae Identification: Disc is somewhat diamond shaped, with anterior margins nearly straight. Snout tip acutely pointed and slightly projecting. Tail length is greater than one-half total length. A single row of thorns extends along the back and tail.

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Featured Elasmobranch – Equatorial Skate

Photo Copyright: Phillippe Bearez Equatorial Skate Raja equatorialis (Jordan and Bollman, 1890) Family Rajidae   Identification: Disc width one-third greater than length; width is greater than tail length. Snout produced at an acute angle with rounded tip. Interorbital space is highly concave. Eye diameter about equal to spiracle length. Pectoral fins extend to middle of

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Featured Elasmobranch – Commander Skate

Featured Elasmobranch  – Commander Skate Bathyraja lindbergi (Ishiyama and Ishihara 1977) Order: Rajiformes Family: Arhynchobatidae Photo copyright: David Ebert/ PSRC copyright   Identification: Flexible, short, broad snout, large, equal sized dorsal fins separated by short space. Lacking scapular and orbital thorns, nuchal and middorsal thorns present. Uninterrupted row of middorsal spines from before scapular arch

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Featured Elasmobranch – Longtail Stingray

Longtail Stingray Dasyatis longa (Garman 1880) Family: Dasyatidae Photo copyright: Andy Murch Identification: A diamond-shaped disc, about a sixth wider than it is long; outer disc corners broadly rounded, with margins of disc being straight from snout to wingtips; snout broadly angular; mouth is curved with five oral papillae.  A central row of blunt thorns

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Featured Elasmobranch – Okhotsk Skate

Photo Copyright: Alexei Orlov Okhotsk Skate Bathyraja violacea (Suvorov, 1935) Order Rajiformes Identification:  Disc wider than its length, and tail length; rostral angle about 100°, interorbital space broad, concave, and smooth.  Dorsal surface with prickles present on disc border and mid-dorsal line of body; larger spines present on median caudal line amidst smaller prickles.  Horizontal

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Featured Elasmobranch – Bullseye Round Stingray

Image Courtesy Christina Obrecht Bullseye Round Stingray Urobatis concentricus Osburn & Nichols, 1916 Family Urotrygonidae   Identification: Disc nearly rounded, anterior edges come together at the snout to form an obtuse angle. The distance from snout to mouth is equal to the distance from snout to eyes. At the tail end, moderately developed lateral folds

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Featured Elasmobranch – Velez Ray

Copyright: Andy Murch/ www.elasmodiver.com Velez Ray or Rasptail Skate Raja velezi Chirichingo, 1973 Family Rajidae Identification: Disc width is about 1.3 times total length, and the snout is pointed. Disc anterior margin of females is relatively straight, while in adult males it is distinctly concave.  A patch of thorns is present on each side of

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Featured Elasmobranch – Ocellated Electric Ray

Ocellated Electric Ray Diplobatis ommata (Jordan & Gilbert, 1890) Order Torpediniformes Identification: An electric ray with a large black ocellated spot in the center of its disc, which is about equal to its snout length; a dark spot centered by a pale spot, and surrounded by a thin pale circle.  The rest of the body

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Featured Elasmobranch – Whitenose Shark

Copyright: John Snow Whitenose Shark Nasolamia velox (Gilbert, 1898) Family Carcharhinidae Identification: A slender grey-brown to light brown shark with a lighter ventral surface. Possesses a very long, conical snout. Eyes large and round with small vertical pupils, and very large, close-set nostrils. No interdorsal ridge and moderately broad, triangular pectoral fins. A prominent black

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Featured Elasmobrach – Longnose Eagle Ray

Illustration courtesy FAO Longnose Eagle ray   Myliobatis longirostris (Applegate and Fitch, 1964)   Family Myliobatidae   Identification: An eagle ray with a pointed, shovel-shaped snout; disc lozenge-shaped, with narrow, acutely pointed wing tips.  Total length, including tail, about twice disc width. A single rounded tubercle present above each eye. Midback line with 19 tubercles

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Featured Elasmobranch-Sicklefin devil ray

May 2012 Copyright: eol.org Sicklefin devil ray Mobula tarapacana   Family Mobulidae     Identification: Head extends anteriorly past the disc, and with short horn-like projections; mouth located on ventral surface of head and contains pitted, tessellated teeth; branchial filter plates are fused. Pectoral fins large and triangular, anterior margin straight, posterior margin falcate. A

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Featured Elasmobranch-Slaty-spotted Guitarfish

April 2012 Copyright: eol.org Slaty-spotted Guitarfish Rhinobatos glaucostigma Family Rhinobatidae Identification: Dorsal surface of this species is grey-brown with symmetrical blue-grey spots around the eyes and back. The margins of the pectoral and pelvic fins are pale. There are irregular dark patches under the snout. The body is shark-like with a bluntly-pointed, moderately-long snout that

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Featured Elasmobranch-Vermiculated Electric Ray

February 2012 Vermiculated Electric Ray Narcine vermiculatus (Breder 1928) Family Narcinidae Identification – The coloration of this species is striking. The dorsal side is chocolate brown with many irregular white transverse blotches, and the caudal has 2 irregular white bars.  Each dorsal fin has a white central spot, and the ventral side is white.  The

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Featured Elasmobranch-Spinetail Mobula

January 2012   Spinetail Mobula   Mobula japanica (Müller and Henle 1841)   Family Mobulidae (Manta and Devil Rays) Identification: Medium to large-sized Devil Ray with sharply pointed ‘wing-like’ pectoral fins. A short, sharp, serrated stinging spine is present behind the dorsal fin followed by a very long, wire-like tail equal to or slightly longer

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Featured Elasmobranch-Scoophead Shark

December 2011 Scoophead Shark Sphyrna media (Springer 1940) Family Sphyrnidae, Hammerhead sharks Identification: This hammerhead shark has a moderately broad but short mallet-shaped side extensions of the head (the width of the cephalofoil is 22-33% of TL).  The front margin of the head is broadly arched, and the snout is moderately long (length before mouth

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Featured Elasmobranch-Smalltail Shark

November 2011 Smalltail Shark Carcharhinus porosus (Ranzani, 1840)   Family Carcharhinidae  (Requiem Sharks) Identification: This is a small requiem shark, with a slender fusiform body, a moderately long, well-rounded snout, and large circular eyes. Five short gill slits located anterior to the pectoral fin. Labial furrows are weakly developed and inconspicuous. Teeth of upper jaw broad and triangular, with

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Featured Elasmobranch-Butterfly Skate

October 2011 Butterfly Skate Bathyraja mariposa (Stevenson, Orr, Hoff & McEachran, 2004) Family Rajidae (Skates) Identification: A medium sized skate with a broad disc, long snout and moderately long tail. The dorsal disc surface is covered uniformly with dense fine denticles except near the disc margins. This is one of only four Alaskan skate species

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Featured Elasmobranch–Diamond Stingray

September 2011  Diamond Stingray Dasyatis dipterura (Jordan and Gilbert 1880) Family Dasyatidae (Whiptail Stingrays) Identification: The disc is diamond shaped, and slightly wider than it is long. The snout is pointed and the teeth are small and molar-like. This species has a long whiplike tail that is less than 1.5 times the disc length,

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Featured Elasmobranch- Whitenose Guitarfish

August 2011 Whitenose Guitarfish Rhinobatus leucorhynchus (Günther 1866) Family Rhinobatidae (Guitarfishes) Identification: Disc rather long, snout tip acute, rostral ridges separated for entire length, converging near snout tip. Eyes moderate-sized, with interorbital width about 3.5 times into snout length; spiracles smaller than eyes. Small spines present on orbital ridges and around spiracles, and on midback

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Featured Elasmobranch- Sea of Cortez skate

July 2011 Sea of Cortez Skate Raja cortezensis (McEachren and Miyake 1988) Family Rajidae Identification: The dorsal surface of this skate is brown, with a lighter brown near the rostrum. The center of the disc is faintly freckled with small dark brown spots. The ventral surface is light tan, except for the tail, which is

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Featured Elasmobranch- Pacific Sharpnose Shark

June 2011 Pacific Sharpnose Shark Rhizoprionodon longurio (Jordan & Gilbert, 1882) Family Carcharinidae (Requiem Sharks) Identification: A small, slender-bodied requiem shark, with a long, pointed snout, widely spaced nostrils, and small fins (except for the first dorsal fin). Like other a lot of other requiem sharks, this species does not have spiracles. The first dorsal

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Featured Elasmobranch- Sicklefin Smoothhound Shark

Featured Elasmobranch May 2011 Copyright: Photographer/SFTEP, 2002/www.discoverlife.org Sicklefin Smoothhound Shark   Mustelus lunulatus (Jordan & Gilbert 1882) Family Triakidae (Houndsharks) Identification: Head short, narrow, eyes small, internarial space broad, mouth long, and upper labial furrows shorter than lower. Teeth blunt, pebble-like, and numerous. First dorsal fin originates over the pectoral fins. Lower caudal lobe long,

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Featured Elasmobranch- Scalloped Bonnethead

Featured Elasmobranch March 2011 Photo Credit: Russ Robertson Scalloped Bonnethead SPHYRNA CORONA (SPRINGER 1940) FAMILY SPHRYNIDAE (HAMMERHEAD SHARKS) Identification: Like other members of the highly-derived family Sphyrnidae, the scalloped bonnethead possesses a distinctive dorso-ventrally flattened head. Color is uniformly gray above, fading to white ventrally with no prominent fin markings. Among the smallest of hammerhead

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Featured Elasmobranch- Narrow-Nose Chimaera

February 2011 Copyright: MBARI Harriotta raleighana Goode and Bean, 1895 Family Rhinochimaeridae (Long-nose chimaeras) Identification: A long-nose chimaera with a compressed, somewhat elongate body tapering to a narrow tail.  Snout moderately long, narrow, slightly flattened with a blunt-edge, often bent upwards.  First dorsal fin tall, height greater than twice the height of second dorsal fin,

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Featured Elasmobranch- Silvertip Shark

January 2011  Photo Credit: David A. Ebert Silvertip Shark Carcharhinus albimarginatus (Rüppell, 1837) Family Carcharhinidae (Whaler or Requiem Sharks) Identification: A medium-sized representative of the whaler shark family with a robust, fusiform body and a long, broadly rounded snout. First dorsal fin originates above or slightly anterior to the free rear tips of the

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Featured Elasmobranch – Pelagic Stingray

December 2010 Photo Credit: Andy Murch Pelagic Stingray   Pteroplatytryon violacea (Bonaparte 1832)   Family Dasyatidae (Stingrays) Identification: A stingray with a large, wedge-shaped disc, a broadly rounded snout and small eyes that do not protrude from the snout. The tail is whiplike and longer than the body with no caudal fin and one long serrated

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Featured Elasmobranch – Spotted Eagle Ray

November 2010 Photo Credit: Keith Wilson (2008) Spotted Eagle Ray Aetobatus narinari (Euphrasen, 1790) Family Myliobatidae (Eagle Rays) Identification: A distinct eagle ray with numerous white spots or rings on a black to bluish disc (occasionally greenish or pinkish), and white ventrally.  The disc is short and broad with highly angular pectoral fins.  The head

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Featured Elasmobranch – Mexican Hornshark

October 2010 Photo credit: Helmut Debelius (1972) Mexican Hornshark Heterodontus mexicanus (Taylor & Castro-Aguirre, 1972) Family Heterodontidae (Bullhead or Horn Sharks) Identification: A small cylindrical shark that has a very short and bluntly rounded snout. It is light grey-brown to dark grey in color, with large black spots (equal to or greater than half of

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Featured Elasmobranch – Smalltooth Sand Tiger Shark

September 2010 Photograph courtesy of Clay Bryce Smalltooth Sand Tiger Shark Odontaspis ferox (Risso, 1810) Family Odontaspididae Identification: A large, bulky grey-brown shark with a conical snout and a mouth extending ventrally beyond the eyes. The teeth are spine-like and protruding, causing the nickname to be the “ragged-tooth” shark.  The dorsal and anal fins are

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Featured Elasmobranch – Pacific Torpedo Ray

May 2010 Photograph courtesy of Jim Lyle Pacific Torpedo Ray Torpedo californica Ayres, 1855 Family Torpedinidae (Electric Rays) Identification: A medium sized, soft, flabby bodied ray with an oval disc. The dorsal surface is smooth with a visible kidney-shaped electric organ. Teeth are small, with a single smooth-edged cusp. First dorsal fin is nearly twice the

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Featured Elasmobranch – Brown Catshark

April 2010 Photo courtesy of Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute.  Copyrighted. Brown Catshark Apristurus brunneus (Gilbert, 1892) Family Scyliorhinidae (Catsharks) Identification: A small slender bodied catshark with a broadly rounded snout, an internarial space about equal to the nostril length, a discontinuous supraorbital sensory canal, upper labial furrows that are longer than the lowers, relatively small

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Featured Elasmobranch – Whiteblotched Skate

March 2010 Whiteblotched Skate Bathyraja maculata (Ishiyama & Ishihara, 1977) Family Arhynchobatidae (softnose skates) Identification: A softnose skate with a short, broad, flexible snout; wide, flat interorbital space; disc that is slightly wider than long, broadly rounded pectoral fin apices, a disc surface evenly covered with numerous, small prickles on the dorsal surface, ventral surface mostly

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Featured Elasmobranch – Lemon Shark

February 2010 Lemon Shark Negaprion brevirostris (Poey, 1868) Family Carcharhinidae (Requiem Sharks) Identification: A large, stocky shark that is pale yellow-brown on the dorsal surface (above) and lighter yellow to white in coloration on the ventral surface (underneath). No conspicuous markings are present along the body. Snout is quite round with the length being shorter

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Featured Elasmobranch – California skate

January 2010 California Skate Raja inornata (Jordan & Gilbert, 1880) Family Rajiidae (hardnose skates) Identification: A hardnose skate with a disc width slightly wider than long, moderately rounded apices, and an acutely pointed snout. The olive brown dorsal surface has small, numerous, scattered prickles, while the lighter colored ventral surface is smooth. The dorsal surface

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Featured Elasmobranch – Fine-spined Skate

December 2009 Fine-spined Skate Bathyraja microtrachys (Osburn & Nichols, 1916) Family Arhynchobatidae (softnose skates) Identification: A softnose skate with a disc that is slightly wider than long, broadly rounded pectoral fin apices, a disc surface evenly covered with numerous, small prickles on the dorsal surface, smooth ventral surface, with no enlarged thorns on the dorsal

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Featured Elasmobranch – Bignose Shark

Photo Credit: John Carlson NOAA Fisheries, Copyrighted Bignose Shark Carcharhinus altimus (Springer 1950) Family Carcharhinidae (Requiem Sharks) Identification: A large, heavy-bodied cylindrical shark with a long, wide, and bluntly pointed snout, prominent nasal flaps, a distinguishingly prominent interdorsal ridge, pectoral and dorsal fins that are long and straight; the inner corners are blackish in coloration.

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Featured Elasmobranch – Eastern Pacific Black Ghostshark

Photo Courtesy of Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute 2003 Eastern Pacific Black Ghostshark October 2009 Hydrolagus melanophasma Family Chimaeridae Identification: A chimaera of the genus Hydrolagus, which lack an anal fin, it has a fairly large, torpedo-like body, tapering from its blunt snout to a short whip-like tail filament. It has large, triangular pectoral fins,

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Featured Elasmobranch – Banded Guitarfish

Photograph Courtesy of Maria del Pilar Blanco   Banded Guitarfish September 2009   Zapteryx exasperata (Jordan & Gilbert, 1880)   Family Rhinobatidae (Guitarfishes) Identification: A guitar-shaped ray with a broad disc that is about twice as wide as it is long. The dorsal surface is covered with numerous, small to large, scattered, stellate prickles and

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Featured Elasmobranch – Deepsea Skate

August 2009   Bathyraja abyssicola (Gilbert, 1896)   Family Arhynchobatidae (softnose skates) Identification: A softnose skate with a moderately triangular anterior disc margin, a broadly rounded posterior disc margin, and a disc width slightly greater than its length. Disc dorsal surface with 1-5 nuchal thorns separate from a row of 21 to 31 continuous median

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Featured Elasmobranch – Pacific White Skate

July 2009       Pacific White Skate   Bathyraja spinosissima (Beebe & Tee-Van, 1941)   Family Arhynchobatidae (softnose skates) Identification: A softnose skate with a disc that is slightly wider than long, broadly rounded pectoral fin apices, a disc surface evenly covered with numerous, small prickles above and below, giving it a shagreenlike texture

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Featured Elasmobranch – Golden Cownose Ray

June 2009 GOLDEN COWNOSE RAY RHINOPTERA STEINDACHNERI EVERMANN & JENKINS, 1892 FAMILY RHINOPTERIDAE (COWNOSE RAYS) Identification: A diamond-shaped ray with a head distinctly protruding from the disc.  The anterior face of the cranium is concave with a bilobed subrostral fin.  Width of the disc is about 1.7-1.8 times its length.  The tail is extremely long and

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Featured Elasmobranch – Pacific Starry Skate

May 2009 Pacific Starry Skate Raja stellulata (Jordan & Gilbert, 1880) FAMILY RAJIDAE (Hardnose Skates)   Identification: Known as the spiniest of eastern North Pacific hardnosed skates, the Pacific starry skate is covered with prickly spines and abrasive dermal denticles. Its dorsal surface has rows of thorns along its mid-back, groups of orbital thorns, up to six large

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Featured Elasmobranch – Bentfin Devil Ray

April 2009 Bentfin Devil Ray Mobula thurstoni (Lloyd, 1908) FAMILY MOBULIDAE (Manta and Devil Rays) Identification: Like other Mobula species, the bentfin devil ray is recognized by its paired, flat head fins, large, angular pectoral disc, subterminal mouth with teeth in both jaws, and slender, “whip like” tail that has a single dorsal fin at

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Featured Elasmobranch – Longnose catshark

March 2009 LONGNOSE CATSHARK APRISTURUS KAMPAE TAYLOR, 1972 FAMILY SCYLIORHINIDAE (CATSHARKS) Identification: A small, moderately slender catshark with a long, broad snout, large gill slits, small eyes, lower labial furrows longer than upper, and a continuous supraorbital sensory canal. The first dorsal fin base is about equal in length to the second dorsal fin base

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Featured Elasmobranch – Bull Shark

February 2009 BULL SHARK CARCHARHINUS LEUCAS (VALENCIENNES, IN MÜLLER AND HENLE, 1839) FAMILY CARCHARINIDAE (REQUIEM SHARKS) Identification: A large, heavy set-bodied shark with a broad snout, relatively small eyes, a large, pointed first dorsal fin, and without an interdorsal ridge.The teeth are broadly triangular and serrated. The dorsal body coloration is a dusky gray that

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Featured Elasmobranch – Galapagos Shark

January 2009 GALAPAGOS SHARK CARCHARHINUS GALAPAGENSIS (SNODGRASS AND HELER 1905) FAMILY CARCHARINIDAE (REQUIEM SHARKS) Identification: A medium to large requiem shark with a relatively long rounded snout, fairly large eyes, the first dorsal fin originating over the inner margin of the pectoral fins, and a low interdorsal ridge. The upper teeth are rather large, broadly

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Featured Elasmobranch – Nurse Shark

NURSE SHARK GINGLYMOSTOMA CIRRATUM (BONNATERRE 1788) FAMILY GINGLYMOSTOMATIDAE (NURSE SHARKS) Identification: Characteristic of sharks within this family, the nurse shark has nasal barbells that extend to the mouth, nasoral grooves, a small mouth positioned in front of the eyes, and the 4th and 5th gill-slits very close together. The nurse shark has rounded pectoral and

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Featured Elasmobranch – Bluntnose Sixgill Shark

Bluntnose Sixgill Shark HEXANCHUS GRISEUS (BONNATERRE 1788) FAMILY HEXANCHIDAE (COW SHARKS) Identification: A huge shark with a broad head and blunt snout with a body that is soft and very stout, a broad mouth, small eyes that appear emerald green in life. This shark is characterized by 6 wide gill slits, a single dorsal fin

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Featured Elasmobranch – Whale Shark

Whale Shark RHINCODON TYPUS (SMITH 1828) FAMILY RHINCODONTIDAE (WHALE SHARKS) Identification: As the largest fish in the world, the whale shark is hard to mistake. This enormous shark has a slightly flattened head with a terminal mouth. Its flanks have prominent ridges with a prominent pattern of white spots between vertical and horizontal stripes reminiscent

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Featured Elasmobranch – Scalloped Hammerhead Shark

Scalloped Hammerhead Shark SPHYRNA LEWINI (GRIFFITH & SMITH 1936) FAMILY SPHRYNIDAE (HAMMERHEAD SHARKS) Identification: The scalloped hammerhead, like other members of the highly-derived family Sphyrnidae, possesses a distinctive dorso-ventrally flattened head. The species can be distinguished from other hammerheads that occur within its range by the characteristic scalloped outline of the head and the straight

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