Not just a huge collection of Shark Pictures: contains images of sharks, skates, rays, and a few 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 10,000 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:


Shark picture - green sawfish





Elasmodiver Feedback


Some of the interesting letters received from the readers of


Wounded by a stingray


Hi, I was wondering if you knew of a website that had some more information on wounds from a sting ray?  I had been "stung" a week ago and was looking for more information on how long it takes to heal, what a "normal" sting area would look like/how it should feel and if it were to get infected, what that would be like.
Thank you,
Diane O.


Hi Diane, I'm not aware of any websites with information that detailed. I've been lucky so far but I have heard that the stings are very painful and can potentially take months to heal. Because the barbs are brittle they tend to leave small fragments in the wound. These may cause infection if the wound is not irrigated by a medical professional. Definitely go to the doc if you haven't done so already.



South African Shark Diving


I actually received this incredible monologue last year but this is the first time that I have posted it on Elasmodiver. I no longer have a contact for this contributor so if Neil (the writer) stumbles over this post please email me again so that I can credit you properly for all of this excellent information:


From Neil in South Africa:


I humbly offer a few suggestions on where you can see sharks...


The Great Whites are pretty well known to you, I'm sure - most activity at Dyer Island off Gansbaai (it is about a 2 hour drive from Cape Town), and about 7 operators offering their services.  Andre Hartmann and Michael Rutzen are the two most well known guys, both of whom do the free-diving out of the cage featured on TV documentaries.

This is not offered (for obvious reasons) to general tourists, but I do know of someone who has done it, and could find out who took him out there to do this if you are interested.


There is also a free-diving trip from (I think) Simon's Town (nearer to Cape Town) to view makos and blue sharks in False Bay.  I don't know much about this, though - it sounds great!


In the Durban area we have several sharks that are attractions.


The most "famous" is the grey-nurse / sand tiger shark (which we call the spotted ragged-tooth shark, or, more affectionately, just "raggie").  They come to the area every winter on their way up to Mozambique, where they breed.


The first raggies of this season arrived last week and I saw my first four of the year on Sunday.

They visit many dive-sites, but the easiest to get to is Aliwal Shoal, which has a number of spots where they can be found in quite pleasing numbers.


There are lots of dive charters, mostly in the little coastal town of Umkomaas (about an hours drive south of Durban), that will take you out there almost any time of the week (weather permitting).


Between June and about September you can be pretty much sure to see raggies in the course of a few dives - especially if you go out early (sunrise), while they are still active from their night's hunting.


There are 3 operators that I know of who offer specialized tiger-shark dives (using chum and a floating bait-bucket; with the divers scuba-diving along with the sharks & bait at about 10m depth - no cage!).


These dives launch from either Umkomaas or a little further south at Scottburgh.


I have done this dive once (and also once came up from an ordinary dive on the bait line of one of the operators - a bit of a surprise, but very thrilling!).  It is something I'm certain to do again, possibly in the next few months, as the shark species changes during the winter.


On the organized dive we had 4 tigers and somewhere between 30 to 40 blacktips (C. limbatus)  - sometimes getting to within touching distance of us (though we never felt even slightly unsafe - the sharks are quite aware that we are not what they are looking for).

On this dive we only had to wait about 15 minutes for the first tiger to arrive - this can vary, of course, but in the "high season" the tigers seem to be ready and waiting....


On these dives they have also seen great whites, duskies, bronze whalers (copper sharks), hammerheads (scalloped) and several others.  Bull sharks may also be possible, but apparently are not often seen.

The time we came up unexpectedly on a bait-line we encountered around 30 or more sharks, which included blacktips, bulls and bronze whalers.


The operator we used for the organized dive was Walter Bernadis of African Watersports who also offers sardine run trips.


If you are wanting to see tiger sharks specifically, it may be best to check with the operator first as to what time of year is best (and also what is happening at the time - the climate is not at all "normal' at the moment and the sea-life is equally abnormal!).

As far as I know the tigers are usually best seen in the summer months (November to late May, with April & May being best) - awkward, as it clashes with the other events - the raggies and the sardine run.


About 2 to 3 hours south of Durban there is another shark dive-site called the Protea Banks (about 7km offshore from Shelley Beach.  There are also a few dive operators here.  The one I have dived with is now closed, I believe, so I don't know whom to recommend.


The dive is not often in the best conditions - the water is quite deep (40m plus), the vis. is often down to 5m, and most of all there is usually a current from hell that whips you along at a good rate.


I am told that on a good day you can have one of the most awesome dives ever - with bull sharks (we call them Zambezi sharks or just "Zambies") coming in close enough to bump you; as well as a range of other sharks on offer.  I have also been told that this will happen about 1 in 10 dives.

I have thus got 7 more to go to have the good one, and will probably keep trying... (to date I have only seen the shadow of what I was assured was a hammerhead).


I have had far better luck with bull sharks at a dive site off Ponta D'Ouro in Mozambique (just across the South African border).


Ponta is about a 6 hour drive north of Durban, and you need a 4x4 vehicle once you are across the border into Moz. - it is only 20km more to reach Ponta, but there are no roads - just sand tracks.  If you are staying at a dive-charter / lodge in Ponta they usually have a pick-up service that can fetch you from the border if you so wish (while you can leave your car parked in a guarded parking (a low rate charged by the locals to look after it for you - have never heard of any problems).


The town of Ponta is very small and was badly affected by the civil war of the 1980's-90's.  It is getting more and more developed each time I visit (about twice a year if I can - I love the place!).  While it is mostly desperately run-down, it also has some quite trendy restaurants!

Anyway, as far as shark diving at Ponta is concerned...


The dive site is about 11km boat-ride north of the town, and is called The Pinnacles.  The Pinnacle itself is a smallish rocky reef rising from 40m up to about 30m, with deeper water all around.  The vis. is usually excellent - 30 to 40m or more, and blue.  There is usually only a mild current, too.

Most of the dive is a "big blue", as the main point is to see sharks & other pelagics.
I have seldom been disappointed on a Pinnacles dive, and there is always the pleasure of just floating in blue space if the sharks don't show for some reason.


I have seen schools of scalloped hammerheads here (20 or more), as well as individuals coming in fairly close, for a 1-on-1 encounter.  Blacktips are also common in the area.


Best of all, it is the place I have had my best sightings of bull sharks - up to 3 at a time, but I know of people who have been circled by 6 or more.

If you take along a spear gun (no arrow - to avoid accidents) and twang it as if firing it off, it seems to work well to "call" them, as the area is often used by spearos, and the sound has become a signal to the local sharks that there is easy food "on offer".  


There are also a lot of other excellent dive-sites off the Ponta coast.  This is one of my favourite "local" dive-spots.


During the summer months (with our seas warm and the rivers feeding a nice plankton bloom) we also get whale sharks visiting our coast - and we are sometimes lucky enough to encounter them in the backline on our way to or from the Aliwal Shoal.

I heard of as many as 8 in one day on a 5km stretch of coastline, between Umkomaas and Scottburgh.

The boat skippers happily stop for you to snorkel with them.  They usually swim away quite quickly when you enter the water, but on one occasion I was lucky enough to spend 25 minutes with a 7-8m long female whale shark, who seemed to want our company and kept swimming right into our group and bumping us very gently, and then hanging in the water brushing against us.  While they aren't the 15m long giants like the ones at Ningaloo, it is a privilege to have them at all.


The sardine run...  This is a tricky one to try to see.  Those little fellows are very unpredictable at best!  Some years they arrive early, some years late and some, not at all.

They normally arrive in June or July (so any time in an 8 week period or so).

Last year they simply didn't arrive (as happened two years before last) - only a few scattered little shoals here and there.

I have a feeling this year will be a good one and early - our winter has started early and it has been unusually cold, and they follow the cold currents.  Just a hunch...


There are a number of operators who offer sardine-run trips, especially as it has become so famous world-wide these days.  Walter Bernadis (whom I mentioned above) is the only one I know personally.  Every year he disappears down the coast for a few weeks to launch his boats for the event.


Aside from the unpredictability of the event, the shoals also don't visit predictable locations, and then they usually only come close to shore in an especially remote area of the country where one has to travel for long distances on bad dirt roads just to get a few km's up the coast.

It all sounds very frustrating, but, if you get to see it, surely worth the while.


As I understand it, the best chance of seeing the sardine run (and I know of few people who have - even though it happens practically on our doorstep) is to find an operator who runs a trip and let them deal with the hassles (at a cost, of course).

The main event is actually not in Durban, but several hours drive down the coast in the former "homeland" (the bad, old days!) of the Transkei - very remote and with little infra-structure (especially decent roads).  You then stay at a set accommodation on the coast and use spotter planes (microlights) and so on to locate the sardine shoals that come close enough to shore.

When a shoal is sighted you may need to drive a longish way to get close to the shoal to launch, or have a long boat trip.  From what I hear, a lot of the time is spent simply waiting...


Having said that, I cannot imagine a more thrilling thing to see!  I am sure you've seen the many TV documentaries about this.  Whales, dolphins, gamefish and masses of sharks and huge flocks of sea-birds, with swirling, silver clouds of sardines.  Must be mind-blowing!!


Towards the end of the run, the shoals begin moving out to sea (to die, apparently - seems very pointless, but there must be a reason, I guess).

In Durban and on the South Coast we only get the tail end of the event, and a few random pockets of fish that come inshore at places (unfortunately without any way of telling where or when, and usually when I am stuck at work and can't get there in time).


As far as the rays are concerned, Aliwal Shoal has quite a variety, including devil rays and manta rays, eagle rays and bull rays, and, occasionally, I have been lucky to see a butterfly ray just off the reef.  In summer we also have a lot of giant guitarfish.


The best Southern African spot for manta rays (and these are the huge ones that look like light aircraft when they come in close over your head) is, in my (rather limited) experience, at a place called Inhambane (pronounced "in-yum-barn") in Mozambique.  It is a mission to get there, but well worth the trip!

The drive from Durban (via Swaziland and then Maputo - then another 6 to 10 hours on a very badly maintained road) can take up to 18 hours, and is something of an endurance test.


Inhambane town is actually on a lagoon, but within 20km of it is the coast, and at various spots along here are dive launch-sites and dive sites, where one can be pretty sure to see giant mantas most of the year, and, in season, whale sharks.  As far as I know the best time of year for whale sharks is Nov-March, peaking in Feb.  Mantas are also better at these times and also into May (best in April).  Places to stay are - Barra Lodge (at the mouth of the lagoon) - expensive, I'm told; various cheaper places and dive charters at Tofu Beach (I stayed here and thoroughly enjoyed it); Guinjata Bay - excellent and reasonably priced lodge and dive charter, I have been told by someone who stayed there.


Phew!  What started as a quick reply to your email has turned into a mini-travelogue - please forgive me waffling!!  Hope it does give you some info and inspiration to visit this part of the world, though.


I had better stop now.  Once again, thanks for your great site - I have sent the web-address to my dive buddies with high recommendations.


Best regards



I forgot to mention the cat sharks!  I have only scuba dived once in Cape Town, and we encountered 3 or 4 different cat sharks on that single dive (including pyjama shark & puff-adder shyshark) - very pretty little creatures with colourful & elaborate markings; they are also very easy to approach as they swim so poorly, and we were able to get within touching distance quite easily (not so easy to photograph as they are quite skittish and shy).  Apparently they are quite common in the kelp beds all along the coast, but you'd obviously need to do several dives to get a good selection of them, or find a specific one.


Much of the diving in Cape Town is shore-entry, or close to shore (boats are mostly just needed to get to sites that the shore entry access point has no land access because of the terrain - the mountains descend directly into the sea in some places).  The water is pretty cold compared to what we are used to in Durban (temps. are from 8'C to 20'C, averaging around 10'C to 15'C; while in Durban area we usually have 20'C to 26'C and Mozambique can go as high as 28'C).


I'll have a look for more information on these rarer sharks, where they may be found and so on - have a lot of books at home to consult and will enjoy researching this.  I am a bit snowed in with various things right now, but will have some time this weekend and get back to you next week, hopefully.


Off the top of my head, I also seem to recall that Cape Town has St. Joseph sharks / elephant-fish (the one that is a type of chimaera), but would need to check on details of where they are found (depth may be a problem).


The cowshark (7-gill) would be one I'd love to see - I remember someone saying they'd seen one, but will have to check among my friends who it was as where they saw it.  So much of this is just pure luck, though!


I forgot to mention that I once saw a leopard shark (well, actually the adult zebra shark!) at 40m on a dive at The Pinnacles (Ponta D'Ouro) - I love that dive site!!

For now, best regards,



Thanks Neil! information at this level is priceless.

Andy Murch Webmaster


Leaping Ray


My son and I observed a ray, he thought it was a manta, I couldn't  say for sure, leap out of the water three times in succession within about 5 seconds.  It was about 4 to five feet across wing tip to wing  tip.  It was about 50 yards from us and we were about a half mile off  the atlantic coast of south carolina, near georgetown.  is this  unusual?  was it feeding or trying to escape something trying to feed  on it perhaps?  was it maybe a mating ritual of some kind?


Fred Edgerton


Elasmodiver response:

There is a lot of speculation as to why rays jump. It is unlikely that such a big ray was evading a predator. As mantas primarily eat plankton it is also unlikely that it was trying to stun a school of fish. Most likely it was attempting to rid itself of parasites but it is impossible to say for sure. There is one report of a manta giving birth during a breach by the mother. Maybe they breach simply because they can. Mantas are considered to be exceptionally intelligent. They are somewhat warm blooded, appear to enjoy interactions with divers (but they are selective in choosing human playmates) and they can recognize individual humans based on eye contact.


Thank you for the question!



How can I convince people about the devastation of shark finning?

Posted by Thanaraj 10/02/07

Hello there! I' m a big fan of sharks and your website. I'm a Malaysian Indian living on Penang Island in Peninsular Malaysia. I've been crazy about sharks since I was 10 years old. I'm 33 years old now. I do my own research on sharks in a way that people here think I'm a little loose in my head. I do my shark conservation in my country by talking to people on the devastation of shark- finning. Sadly, shark fin consumption is widely accepted as a way of tradition and delicacy, mainly for the chinese community. It's a must- have dish in weddings and various functions. I've tried to convince the people here that without sharks, the whole eco- balance of our oceans will get screwed. but people here are so ignorant that they laugh at what I'm trying to do. But I haven't and will not give up trying to get people to eat fins. I visited Pulau Payar off Langkawi Island to "meet" Blacktip sharks. We don't as many awesome species that you have but I get my "HIGH" from watching and learning about sharks from whatever sources I can get my hands on. 

Your are doing a great job. I would appreciate it very much if you could give me ideas on how to convince people about the devastation of Shark finning.


Elasmodiver Response:

Firstly, trying to change an ingrained cultural activity is extremely hard to do without help. On an island the size of Penang there must be other people who understand the repercussions of shark finning. I suggest that you try the university to look for an environmental group that you can join. If there are none, then maybe you will be the first member!

Secondly, make sure you have your facts straight. If you can provide a bulletproof argument on why shark finning should be banned and why shark fin consumption is dangerous (both for the oceans and for the consumer) then you give your audience no alternative than to accept what you are telling them. An excellent source of hard facts about shark finning issues can be found at:

Good luck and keep up the good work!

Andy Murch.


The truth about attacks

Posted by Scott 30/01/07

I am perpetually flabbergasted by the tripe appearing about sharks in even supposedly knowledgeable sites such as yours (for how many years did I read about the “peaceable Bull Shark”, which, it now seems, is a feisty, little biter). 

Firstly, there is NO evidence that Great White attacks on humans are “mistakes”.  The basis for the assertion is that the Great White almost invariably takes a bite out of a diver or surfer and then backs off, apparently because, oh my, it thinks it bit the wrong thing…  Wrong answer.  That is how Great Whites hunt.  Remember, their prey often consists of very large, powerful animals, such as elephant seals and sea lions.  The Great White doesn’t want a fight, it wants a freakin’ meal.  SO, the Great White, which is an “ambush hunter”, zips in, inflicts a vicious bite, and then backs off to let the victim, if it’s big enough to survive the initial attack, bleed to death or, at the least, lose so much blood that it is easy to finish off.  Ever notice how these Great Whites, after they make their supposedly mistaken attack on a surfer, stick around?  They don’t swim off in search of more suitable prey.  They’ve already found suitable prey (a warm blooded marine – or, at least, amphibious - mammal) and they’ve already bitten it.  Now they just want the damn thing to die.   Seals in that situation do die.  People get hauled out of the water.  The Great White’s only “mistake” is in not anticipating that development.  Altho’ I’ve not personally seen it (tho’ I’ve personally witnessed two Great White attacks), I have seen video of these supposedly “mistaken” Great Whites rushing back in to reclaim their dying prey when the people on the boat do try to retrieve the injured swimmer, which would seem evidence enough that the shark wasn’t just goofing around.  That, btw, is why their teeth look the way they do.  Tiger Shark teeth are designed to sheer great masses of flesh and bone.  Great Whites have dagger-shaped teeth designed to provoke massive blood loss.

Secondly, I read on your site that Tiger Sharks reach a maximum length of 5.5 meters.  That’s just shy of 18’.  So, how come I’ve seen bigger?  Now, I’m aware that things in the water tend to appear 20% - 25% bigger than they really are, but I’m not relying on my guesstimate – for instance, while in Fiji, we hooked a Tiger Shark, which, like most sharks, allowed itself to be dragged to the boat (one never knows, when one gets a shark on a hook, if it is a 3’ dog shark or a 17’ monster man-eater, since they all feel the same, with the exception of a few “sport” varieties, like the Mako – they all feel like a log, until you get ‘em close enough to react to the sight of the boat).  The Boat was 26’ long.  The Tiger Shark, which was immediately adjacent to it, stretched almost the entire length of the boat, being maybe 24’+ total.  Obviously, we cut the line (and, in any event, we weren’t intentionally fishing for sharks).  I’m quite sure of the size of the sucker, esp. as I was planning some dives the next day and had some real qualms about going into the water with a thing like that.

Just my two cents worth.


Elasmodiver Response:

Hi Scott, basically, you're absolutely right. I believe that white sharks bite people in order to eat them but it is possible that sometimes they are shocked to find out what they have chomped on and then decide not to pursue their meal. Its difficult to prove this either way.
They also gently mouth objects to see whether they are edible and this can be devastating for an unprotected mammal like you or me.
Considering that Bull sharks have been implicated in more attacks than most other sharks, it is foolish to refer to them as peaceable. I do not believe we are their prey of choice but they are opportunistic hunters. The experiments by Mr Ritter at Bull Shark Beach in the Bahamas are generally considered foolhardy and without merit by more traditional biologists.
Now, if you have time and /or the inclination, go back to elasmodiver and read the page about shark attacks - its listed on the left menu. Then please return and comment again.
Regarding the size of the tiger you saw. Wow, that's big. Sadly one that size has never been officially recorded therefore it cant be used to verify the maximum length. I am not challenging the authenticity of your claim but if anecdotal evidence was the basis of scientific fact then great whites would be listed as reaching 45ft in length and megalodons would still be considered extant.

Best regards, Andy Murch, Web Master and Shark Photographer.



















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