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WHAT IS ELASMODIVER?

Not just a huge collection of Shark Pictures: Elasmodiver.com 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:

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Shark picture - green sawfish

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APRON RAY

View all available apron ray images in the Shark Pictures Database

Common Names: Apron Ray.

Latin Name: Discopyge tschudii

Family: Narcinidae

Identification: The apron ray has a uniform pinkish grey body disc with a thin white margin. A curved row of small white spots extends from the disc margin (at a point level with the eyes) to the rear body. Indistinct white spots also occur along the sides of the tail. Eyes small with dark pupils. Two large rounded dorsal fins (fading to white at rear margin) positioned along tail.

Size: Maximum length 54cm.

Habitat: Usually found on sand from 5 to 181 meters deep.

Distribution: Temperate South America south of the 33rd Parallel. In the Eastern Pacific the apron ray is recorded from Peru and Chile. In the Western Atlantic it is found in Argentina, Brasil and Uruguay. Not reported around the southern tip of South America so the Atlantic and Pacific subpopulations appear to be isolated.

Behavior:  Sits motionless on the sand for much of the day. Feeds mostly on polychaete worms and gammarid amphipods. May incapacitate larger prey by discharging its electric organs but probably mostly used for defense.

Reproduction: Ovoviviparous. Litter number 1 - 12 but usually 4-5.

Conservation Status: Near Threatened. According to the IUCN, this ray is declining in numbers. From the IUCN: "(The apron ray) is rare in southern Brazil where it occurs only in small numbers in winter and in Uruguay captures are also low. In Northern Argentina, biomass measured by research trawling decreased by 88% in the years 1994 to 1999. However, because there was an apparent change in the distribution pattern of the species it is impossible to tell whether this decline was caused by a reduction in population size or geographic availability of Discopyge mitigated by different hydrographic conditions. However, given this data and intense fishing pressure across its range in the Southwest Atlantic it is classified as Vulnerable there. Future research may result in downgrading the conservation status to Near Threatened or upgrading perhaps as high as Critically Endangered. In the Southeast Pacific there is no information on the impact of fisheries bycatch on its abundance and this population is assessed as Data Deficient. Globally, the species is assessed as Near Threatened, taking into account its threatened status in the Southwest Atlantic, where fisheries appear to have caused a rapid and steep population decline, and an inferred population decline in the Southeast Pacific as a result of bycatch mortality."

Photographs: Zapallar Bay, Central Chile.

Similar species: The only other member of this genus is D.castelloi; a very similar species known from Brazil and Argentina.   

Reaction to divers: Remains motionless unless approached very closely. Then, moves away slowly. Like other electric rays, if threatened this ray probably emits an electric shock.

Diving logistics:

I have only seen this ray in Zapallar Bay (about 2 hours north of Santiago) but other divers report sightings along the central coast so it is obviously quite widespread and relatively easy to find. Sightings are usually on sand or mixed rocks and sand so if you would like to see this ray, shore-diving in sandy bays close to Santiago would be an ideal place to start. Most bays are exposed to surge but the bay at Zapallar is protected from some of the swells. Park your vehicle on the public beach in the centre of the bay and swim to the left (south) before submerging. This is also a good spot to locate 'Pinta roca' aka. Redspotted catsharks.

 

References and further reading:

IUCN Red List Citation: Massa, A., Hozbor, N. & Lamilla, J. 2004. Discopyge tschudii. In: IUCN 2012. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2012.2. <www.iucnredlist.org>

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