You can find today’s Underrated Elasmobranch in the shallow waters of South Africa. The sharp tooth houndshark (Triakis megalopterus), aka the “spotted gully” shark by the locals, is known to gather in schools during the summer months. As they grow, individuals gain more and more black spots.
This harmless fish can grow up to 1.7m (5.6 ft) in length and weight around 40 kg (88 lbs) and spends its days weaving in and out of the kelp in search of crabs, small fish, and other sharks. Though their meat is not necessarily desirable to fishermen, when caught, this Near Threatened (IUCN Red List 2005) species is dried into an expensive shark ‘biltong’ or jerky.
Today’s Underrated Elasmobranch is commonly misidentified as a bull shark (Carcharhinus leucas) due to its ability to survive in freshwater environments such as rivers. The ganges shark (Glyphis gangeticus) was first identified in the Ganges River but can be found all over the Indo-West Pacific.
They can reach up to lengths of 6.7 ft (2.04 m). These sharks are considered potentially harmful to humans due to their size, large teeth, and the close proximity to humans, however this ranking may be skewed due to how often they are confused with bull sharks. According to the IUCN Red List, the ganges shark is critically endangered (2007).
The next Underrated Elasmobranch in this series is the Finless sleeper ray (Temera hardwickii). We’ve highlighted sleeper rays in the past for their ability to emit strong electrical currents that can be very harmful to any potential predators.
This species is smaller, growing up to only 46 cm ( 1.5 ft) in the oceans of the Indo-Pacific. While there is not too much known about this species, it is thought that they feed on small, bottom-dwelling invertebrates. Females allegedly have 4 pups with each litter.
This species of ray is considered Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List (2004).
TFUI Founder Melissa C. Marquez is author of all animal bios and "Behind the Fins" segments.
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