Not just a
huge collection of
Elasmodiver.com contains images of sharks, skates, rays, and a few
chimaera's from around the world. Elasmodiver began as a simple web
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.
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
Hamelin Bay is Western Australiaís answer to Stingray city.
Itís a great place to interact with big friendly stingrays but itís a long way
from Grand Cayman in more ways than one.
Down under the action takes place from shore. For decades,
sport fishing boats have entered the bay to clean their catches on the remains
of an old jetty on the beach. The scraps are thrown into the ocean and over time
the local marine life have become expectant of a free meal. Most noticeable
among the eager diners are large rays that swim right into the shallows in the
hope of a snack. The fishermen are now able to hand feed them in just a few
inches of water to the delight of the tourists who paddle in to join in the fun
and pet the rays as they suck up the food.
There are two main species that come to lunch each day;
Thorntail or Black stingrays (Dasyatis thetidis) and Southern bat rays (Myliobatis
australis). The Thorntails are monsters weighing in at hundreds of pounds.
When they lumber up to the shoreline the children scream and run from the water
only to return with fish parts, and squeal with delight as the rays suck up the
scraps straight from their hands. So big are the Thorntail rays (up to almost 2
meters wide) that when they come into shallow water their backs protruding above
the surface look like rocks. Itís Stingray City on steroids.
The Bat rays or Eagle rays as they are also called, cruise
the shore line on busy days dredging any food from the sand that has not been
vacuumed up by the Thorntails. They flap back and forth about a meter from shore
with their wing-like pectoral fins slapping in and out of the water. Oblivious
to the crowds of people shuffling towards them in the shallows, they
occasionally end up under foot but neither they nor the Thorntails show any
aggressive behavior towards the humans.
I decided to don a wetsuit and snorkel out to deeper water
to see where the rays go between meals. Itís a little frigid that far south
being at the edge of the Southern Ocean and I kicked hard to keep warm.
Maneuvering between the old pier pilings I dove down to the seabed and
immediately disturbed the biggest stingray I have ever seen. It took off into
deeper water leaving a mushroom cloud of sand that brought the visibility down
to a few feet. There have been a couple of attacks at this beach and it crossed
my mind that with so much fish blood in the water I was probably asking for
trouble kicking around on my own this far out to sea. Funny how the whole mood
of a day can change when you start to consider such things.
Swimming back to shore I was able to get so close to the
Southern bat rays that I could see the pale blue stripes on their backs.
Normally they bolt as soon as you see them but these desensitized individuals
were not skittish at all unless I swam straight for them. It was a great
Hamelin is a long way to go for a break but if youíre
sharking your way along the coast of Western Australia, itís a fun place to hit
the beach and catch a few rays (Iíve always wanted to say that).