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
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:
Identification: Somewhat rhomboid disc. Bluntly rounded snout and rounded
anterior disc margin. Younger specimens have a very noticeable bump (about the
size of a pea) protruding from the front, centre of the snout. Tail long. Well
defined dorsal finfold on tail. Dorsum tan. Ventrum pale. Less tubercles on back
than Southern stingray.
Size: Maximum disc width 36 inches.
Habitat: Near shore, estuaries, and sand flats. Intertidal to 10 meters.
Abundance and distribution: Coastal New Jersey to Northern Gulf of Mexico
and South to Argentina. Widespread in West Indies.
Behavior: Forages in sand, for fish, clams, worms, and shrimps.
Photographs: Panama City, Florida.
Similar species: Southern stingray, Atlantic stingray.
Reaction to divers: Skittish but will allow a slow approach.
Diving logistics: These rays can be found at the Jetty at St. Andrews
State Recreation Area at Panama City. It is possible to snorkel with them or
dive but I found them mainly in the 8 to 15ft range, so tanks are not really
necessary. Air fills can be obtained from Panama City Dive Centre near the
entrance to the park. Two options are to dive the beach on the right side of the
rock jetty or swim through the sheltered swimming area and drop into the
channel. Make sure you have an incoming tide for clarity and to avoid being
swept out into the bay. This is a great area to find rays. On the same dives and
snorkels I found Southern stingrays and Atlantic stingrays. I also saw a school
of around 25 Devil rays but sadly I didnít have my camera when they showed up.
Other diving locations submitted by readers: I spoke to the curator of
Mote Marine Aquarium in Sarasota regarding their Bluntnose ray and he told me
that they had not had a Bluntnose stingray in the Aquarium before as they are
not commonly encountered. This leads me believe that the abundance of them
around Panama City at that time may have been unusually high.
Scott W. Michael - Reef Sharks and Rays of the