Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Elasmobranchii (sharks and rays)
Order; Orectolobiformes (Carpet sharks) Most carpet sharks feed on the seabed in shallow to medium-depth waters and have ornate patterns reminiscent of carpets.
Family: Stegostomatidae (Zebra sharks)

Genus/species: Stegastoma fasciatum ( juvenile)

GENERAL CHARACTERISTICS: S. fasciatum has a cylindrical body with a large, slightly flattened head and a short, blunt snout and is yellow-brown with dark brown spots. Young less than 70 cm (2,3 feet) in length are black with yellow bars. Adults have longitudinal skin ridges. The head has 5 small gill slits, the last three behind pectoral fin origin; nostrils close to front of snout, with short barbels.  Pectoral fins are large and broadly rounded and body has a long caudal fin, almost as long as the rest of the body.

Length up to 354 cm (11.7 feet) 

Zebra Shark 16235954845_08c3bb04f1_k

DISTRIBUTION/HABITAT: Tropical marine. Indo-West Pacific. Found near coral reefs with sandy bottoms and remain at the reef at where they were hatched or reefs that are closely connected to their natal area.

Depth range 0 – 63 m (206 feet).

DIET IN THE WILD: Feeds mainly on mollusks, but also small bony fishes, crustaceans (crabs and shrimps) and sea snakes.

REPRODUCTION: Oviparous S. fasciatum has large purplish-black eggs or dark brown egg cases with longitudinal striations.

Lifespan: Ave. 25 years. 

CONSERVATION: IUCN Red List; Vulnerable (VU)     Decreasing numbers secondary to heavily fished shallow coral reef habitat throughout all its range except Australia.

Remarks: Like other bottom dwelling sharks, it can pump water across its gills through its mouth, which allows the shark to respire while stationary. 

It was tank bred at the Shedd Aquarium.


California Academy of Sciences Reef Lagoon 2016


IUCN Red List


Animal diversity web


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Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Chondrichthyes
Subclass: Elasmobranchii (sharks and rays)
Order: Myliobatiformes (Stingrays)
Family: Dasyatidae (Stingrays)

Genus/species: Taeniura lymma

GENERAL CHARACTERISTICS: large bright blue spots on a grey-brown to yellow, olive-green or reddish-brown oval, elongated disc with lateral blue side-stripes along the tail. The snout is rounded and angular. Disc diameter to 25 cm (9.8 inches).


DISTRIBUTION/HABITAT: Indo-West Pacific around coral reefs and sandy bottoms to a debt of 20 meters (66 feet).

DIET IN THE WILD: Prey is often detected through electroreception, a system which senses the electrical fields produced by the prey. Within the mouth are two plates, which are used for crushing mollusks, worms, shrimps, and crabs.

Taeniura lymma9830767635_6774f7ae7d_k

REPRODUCTION: Ovoviviparous; the egg-shell is weakly formed and young hatch inside the female; they are nourished by their yolk sac and then ‘born’ live.

PREDATION: The hammerhead shark uses the cartilaginous projections form the side of their heads to pin them down to the bottom of the substrate while taking bites from the stingray’s disc. The hammerhead is able to avoid being stung by the poisonous spines on the rays tail by pinning the stingray down.


CONSERVATION: IUCN Red List: Near threatened

REMARKS: At the tip of the tail are two sharp venomous spines (can be regenerated) which permit this ray to strike at enemies forward of its head. Venom is produced and delivered into narrow groves running lengthwise along the underside of the stinger. The entire structure is covered by a thin layer of skin which, when broken, releases its venom into its victim.


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Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Chondrichthyes
Subclass: Elasmobranchii
Order: Myliobatiformes
Family: Dasyatidae (Whiptail Stingrays, whip-like tails, which are much longer than the disc)

Genus/species: Himantura uarnak


GENERAL CHARACTERISTICS: Disc light brown above with conspicuous dark spots, white ventrally. Tail with bands of black and white, three times the body length. One tail spine. The dark spots are separated in the young ray; in the adult they become crowded together, forming the reticulated pattern from which it gets its name. Snout sharply pointed. Band of flat denticles down the back.
Width up to 2 m (6.5 ft), weigh up to 120 kg (265 lbs).

 Himantura uarnak 18366435141_1e263bfff2_k

DISTRIBUTION/HABITAT: Subtropical, Indo-West Pacific, Red Sea, to southern Africa and French Polynesia, north to Taiwan, south to Australia.

Benthic, found in surf zone, sandy beaches, sandy areas of coral reefs, shallow estuaries and lagoons, down to 90 m (295 ft). It can tolerate brackish water and in India, has been found in the fresh water of Chilka Lake and the Hoogly River, a tributary of the Ganges River.


DIET IN THE WILD: Main foods: small fish, also bivalves crabs, shrimps, worms and jellies.

REPRODUCTION: Ovoviviparous. Embryos feeding initially on yolk, then receiving additional nourishment from the mother by indirect absorption of uterine fluid enriched with mucus, fat or protein through specialised structures


REMARKS: Although venomous, it is a popular angling fish due to its being a powerful fighter. It is not a food fish but is used in Chinese medicine.

CONSERVATION: IUCN Red list Vulnerable (VU)

REMARKS: Since their mouths are directed downward and often placed against the sand, stingrays use their spiracles rather than their mouths for water intake.

Stingrays have a spiral valve in their intestine that increases food absorption, and lack a swim bladder.

Although venomous, it is a popular angling fish due to its being a powerful fighter. It is not a food fish but is used in Chinese medicine.


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Encyclopedia of Life

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class:Class: Chondrichthyes (sharks and rays)
Order: Carcharhiniformes (Ground sharks)
Family: Carcharhinidae (Requiem sharks eg migratory, live-bearing sharks of warm seas)

Genus/species: Carcharhinus melanopterus

All fins tipped with black, the large dorsal fin with a white band beneath the black tip, conspicuous white bands along flanks, sometimes edged with black. Otherwise, yellowish-tan above, white below.
Length up to 2 m (6.5 ft) long and weight up to 13.6 kg (30 lbs)

Carcharhinus melanopterus2979831615_73451da081_b

DISTRIBUTION: Subtropical from Red Sea and East Africa to the Hawaiian Islands and the Tuamoto Archipelago. Also enters the Mediterranean from the Red Sea (via the Suez Canal). Prefers inshore coral reefs and the intertidal zone. Has been observed in mangrove areas and fresh water, traveling in and out with the tide.

DIET IN THE WILD: Teleost fishes sea snakes. Predation upon other elasmobranchs was rare.

REPRODUCTION: C. melanopterus is viviparous, incubating young for up to 16 months, producing 2–4 pups per litter. In a fashion not uncommon in sharks, the male takes the female’s pectoral fin in his teeth and the two mate belly to belly.


PREDATORS: Preyed upon by other sharks as well as large groupers. Average lifespan c. 12 years

CONSERVATION: IUCN Near threatened (NT) 2015-4
The Blacktip Reef Shark is not a target of major fisheries, but is regularly caught by inshore fisheries in India and Thailand. It is caught for human consumption, fishmeal, and their fins enter the oriental sharkfin trade, for sharkfin soup. Their livers are also sought as a rich source of oil.

REMARKS: Often hunt in packs, driving prey into a tight ball and then attacking the ball in a feeding frenzy, even leaping out of the water. Its distinctive appearance and active swimming habit make it a favorite specimen for aquariums. It has been known to bite people wading in shallow water and is aggressive towards spear fishers.


Californiua Academy of Sciences Steinhart Aquarium Reef Lagoon 2-2-16


Californiua Academy of Sciences Steinhart Aquarium Reef Lagoon 2-2-16

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Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Chondrichthyes (cartilaginous fishes)
Subclass: Elasmobranchii (sharks, rays and skates)
Order: Myliobatiformes
Family: Potamotrygonidae (river stingrays)

Genus/species: Potamotrygon motoro

GENERAL CHARACTERISTICS: Oval disc, with a greyish-brown upper surface patterned with distinct yellow-orange spots, and a white underside. Like most rays, flat teeth are used to grip and crush prey that is sucked into the ventral mouth. Note periscoping eyes which protrude from sand when buried. Olfaction is a major and well-developed means of perception for these stingrays; their olfactory organs are situated in laterally placed cartilaginous capsules on the top of the head. The spine on the tip of the tail is capable of delivering a painful sting.
Length up to 1 m (3 ft.) and weight to 15 kg (33 lb.).

Potamotrygon motoro3407966512_7f4218b0a0_b

DISTRIBUTION: South America: Uruguay, Paraná- Paraguay, Orinoco, and Amazon Basins.

HABITAT: Found in freshwater calm waters, especially on the sandy margins of lagoons, brooks and streams. Able to tolerate only a narrow range of salinities. Lost ability to retain urea decreasing osmolarity for fresh water unlike salt water relatives.

DIET: Mostly benthic hard-shelled invertebrates, such as clams, mussels, and crustaceans. Also worms, insect larvae, and small fishes.

REPRODUCTION: Fertilization is internal with the male attaches himself to a female by firmly clamping his jaws onto the posterior margin of her disk, sometimes leaving prominent bite marks. Females produce eggs that hatch inside the female and are then ‘born’ live after a gestation period of no more than three months. The litter size varies, from 3 to 21 young.

LIFESPAN: Maximum of 15 years in captivity.

CONSERVATION: IUCN Red list Data Deficient (DD)

Potamotrygon motoro10203193423_b185d566b4_k

REMARKS: One of the seven species of this genus inhabiting southern South America.
Fishermen also harpoon these rays during floods when they are found resting over vegetation in shallow water. P.motoro apparently has delicious meat.




Encyclopedia of Life

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Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Elasmobranchii (sharks and rays)
Order: Carcharhiniformes (Ground sharks; characterized by the presence of a nictitating membrane over the eye, two dorsal fins, an anal fin, and five gill slits.)
Family: Scyliorhinidae (Cat sharks; elongated cat-like eyes and a patterned appearance, ranging from stripes to patches to spots)

Genus/species: Cephaloscyllium ventriosum


GENERAL CHARACTERISTICS: Maximum length 3.2 ft. Stout body with flat, broad head; snout short; mouth huge, proportionally larger that the great white shark (Carcharodon carcharias). Teeth are at front of jaws with dagger-like central point and 1-2 small points on each side; two dorsal fins: first much larger, with origin over pelvic fins, second dorsal fin considerably smaller than first, its origin over origin of anal fin. The body is light brown with dark patches covered with black dots.

DISTRIBUTION/HABITAT: Central California to southern Mexico; also reported near central Chile.
Found in rocky reefs and kelp forests, from surface to 460 m (1500 ft), in temperate and subtropical waters.

DIET IN THE WILD: Nocturnal; feeds on crustaceans and fishes, often blacksmith. Lie-in-wait predator that sits on the bottom with wide-open mouth, ready to ambush unsuspecting prey. (slowly opens jaws; lies in wait for prey to swim inside).

REPRODUCTION: Oviparous; female lays amber-colored egg cases that hatch in 8–10 months. Egg case (“mermaid’s purse”) is 9 – 13 centimeters (3.5 – 5 inches) long, 3 – 6 centimeters (1 – 2.3 inches) wide. Young have enlarged toothlike denticles on the back that help them break through egg cases. Pups measure 14 – 15 centimeters at birth; immediately feed on their own


Swell Shark egg Case IMG_0322

PREDATORS:  If caught it is, usually it will be released because its flesh is of poor quality. Embryos may be eaten by snails that bore through egg cases.   Life span: 25 or more years.

CONSERVATION: IUCN Red List: least concern species

REMARKS: Hides in caves and crevices during normal aquarium hours. the day, and so is often not to be seen during aquarium hours. Common and specific (ventriosum = “largebelly”) names come from its ability to take in water that makes it appear up to twice as large as its normal size, a difficult meal for predators to bite or to remove from a crevice. If caught and brought to the surface, it can swell its body with air.

When caught by fishermen and brought out of water, the release of gulped water/air can cause the swell shark to “bark”.

Occurs in aggregations while resting, sometimes piled one on top of the other.

Swell Shark 3426936973_ee6379d9fb_b

Southern California Coast Kelp Exhibit CC14, Tidepool young with egg cases.


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Sean Donahoe, CAS docent, materials from the Naturalist Center and collaborated with Docent Program staff document.

Works Cited

1. Carwardine, M. 2004. Shark. Firefly Books. Buffalo. 168 p.

2. Michael, S.W. 1993. Reef Sharks and Rays of the World: A guide to their

identification, behavior, and ecology. Sea Challengers. Monterey. 107 p.

3. Parker, S. and Parker, J. 1999. The Encyclopedia of Sharks. Firefly Books.

Buffalo. 192 p.

4. Ebert, D.A. 2003. Sharks, Rays, and Chimeras of California. University of

California Press. Berkeley/Los Angeles. 284 p.

5. Springer, V.G. and Gold, J.P. 1989. Sharks in Question. Smithsonian Institution

Press. Washington, D.C. 187 p.



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