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WHAT IS ELASMODIVER?

Not just Shark Pictures: Elasmodiver contains photos of sharks, skates, rays, and chimaera's from around the world. Elasmodiver began as a simple web based shark field guide to help divers find the best places to encounter the different species of sharks and rays that live in shallow water but it has slowly evolved into a much larger project containing information on all aspects of shark diving and shark photography.

There are now more than 5000 shark pictures  and sections on shark evolution, biology, and conservation. There is a large library of reviewed shark books, a constantly updated shark taxonomy page, a monster list of shark links, and deeper in the site there are numerous articles and stories about shark encounters. Elasmodiver is now so difficult to check for updates, that new information and pictures are listed on an Elasmodiver Updates Page that can be accessed here:

WHAT'S NEW?

Shark picture - green sawfish

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THORNBACK RAY

 

View all available Thornback Ray Pictures

Common English Names:

Thornback Ray, Thornback Guitarfish.

Latin Name: Platyrhinoidis triseriata.

Family: Platyrhinidae - containing 3 genera and 5 described species. Morphologically thornback rays fall somewhere between guitarfishes and torpedo rays and may represent the evolutionary link between the two families.

Identification: Rounded disc slightly wider than long with rounded anterior edge which has a thin white margin. Three pronounced rows of tubercles (spines) run along back and tail from behind eyes. Tail broad with two well developed, rounded dorsal fins of roughly equal size set close to caudal fin. Oval caudal fin small. Dorsum uniformly light brown to grey. Ventrum pale. Two separate rostral cartilages extend from the skull to the tip of the snout which differentiates thornback rays from guitarfishes which have only one.

Size: Maximum length 91cm.

Habitat: Intertidal Inshore waters to 50m. On sand and mud bottoms and occasionally in or around kelp beds.

Abundance and distribution: Central California to Baja.

Behavior: During the day lays partially buried in sand. Forages for worms, molluscs and crustaceans in the substrate. May be solitary or in groups.

Reproduction: Thornback rays are ovoviviparous (yolk sac viviparity). One species is said to be oviparous laying skate egg shaped cases but this needs to be confirmed.

Photographs: Tajegis Beach, Santa Barbara, California.

Similar species: There is only one thornback ray living in this region. The closest sympatric species is the Banded Guitarfish which is easily identifiable by its bold markings and longer, more shark-like tail.

Reaction to divers: Generally easy to approach with slow movements. I was able to follow the photographed specimen for most of a dive as it slowly swam around the reef.

Diving logistics: Apparently a common species in many bays in southern California but it is often in turbid inshore water where photography is difficult. Try hunting in shallow bays just beyond the surf line for the best chance at sightings.

Other diving locations submitted by readers:

Further reading:

Sharks, Rays, and Chimaeras of California. David A. Ebert

Reef Sharks and Rays of the World. Scott W. Michael. Sea Challengers.

Sharks and Rays - Elasmobranch Guide of the World. Ralf M. Hennemann. IKAN.

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