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Sharks and Rays Of Australia - A Review

April 27, 2011 | Comments: 0 | Views: 141

So if you're anything like me and you love sharks, you always need a good reference book about them. It's easy to identify the big ones or the common ones or the ones that appear on TV, but what about that shark-like shape you caught out of the corner of your eye or that strange shark you saw at a new dive site?

Australia is home to the greatest diversity of sharks and rays on the planet. Stingarees, fiddler rays, numb rays, ghost sharks, carpet sharks and stingrays are just some of the weird and wonderful members of the cartiliginous fish family found here and they live in habitats ranging from remote estuaries all the way through to the deep ocean depths.

Sharks and Rays of Australia is one of those 'must have' books if you are a scuba diver, scientist, fisherman, marine conservationist or you have more than a passing interest in Chondrichthyes - sorry couldn't help throwing in the latin - sharks and rays.

The first edition of Sharks and Rays of Australia was published in 1994 and was so popular it sold out in a few years...not bad for a reference book I reckon. This edition was published in 2009 and it contains updates on more than 100 species and includes 26 that have been discovered since the first edition. The book now contains 322 species found in Australian waters but many of them have much wider distributions so is useful over a much wider area than just Australia.

One of my gripes about fish ID books is finding the fish you're after; if you don't know the name of the animal, you have to leaf through pages and pages of photographs in the hope of finding what you're looking for. While I can't really think of an alternative, this book at least gives you a few ways to help narrow down your options. There's an introduction and illustrated glossary which can help provide some context if you don't have detailed knowledge of sharks. There's a key to identifying families of sharks and rays so if you're looking for a particular fish, this section can help you find the right part to look in. There's also some incredibly detailed colour drawings of each species at the back and there's two indexes - one of common names and one of scientific names.

Each individual animal section outlines distinctive features, colour, size and distribution and a 'remark' heading under which you'll find behaviours, breeding habits and any conservation issues. There's no colour photographs only the coloured line drawings but I don't think you miss out on anything by not having them.

It's described as a field guide but at almost 650 pages its pretty big to be toting around. Plus it's one of those hardcover coffee table books and if you're anything like me you won't want to get it dirty or creased! Mine lives on my bookshelf but comes out after most dives and sometimes I'll just have a flick through to see what animal I want to go and dive with next.

Jane Mitchell is a scuba diving instructor who works at a public aquarium for her day job. She loves introducing people to the joys that can be found underwater and discovering everything she can about shipwrecks and sharks.

Her website is

Source: EzineArticles
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Article Tags:

Love Sharks


Reference Book


Numb Rays


Fiddler Rays


Ghost Sharks


Carpet Sharks


Scuba Diving



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