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Sharks & Rays

Group 12: Sharks & Rays

Sharks & Rays

Group 12 - Sharks & Rays : Even though the sharks and rays are cartilaginous (their skeletons are made of cartilage instead of bones), they are still referred to as fish and count during our surveys.

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5 Fun Facts - Bull sharks & Whitetip reefsharks

Here in Costa Rica there are three shark species that you will encounter depending on the dive site and time of the year you dive. On our local dive sites we find white-tip reef sharks, nursesharks and of course the famous bullsharks at Bat Islands. Here are some fun facts about these majestic legends of the Costa Rican underwater world.

Bull Sharks: Masters of Estuarine Environments: Bull sharks frequently inhabit estuarine environments, where freshwater from rivers meets saltwater from the ocean. Their ability to navigate and adapt to these fluctuating salinity levels showcases their resilience in diverse ecosystems.

Bull Sharks' Unique Reproductive Strategy: Bull sharks have a fascinating reproductive strategy known as "placental viviparity." This means that the embryos develop inside the mother, receiving nutrients from a placental connection. This adaptation allows bull sharks to give birth to live pups rather than laying eggs.

White Tip Reef Sharks' Siesta Time: White tip reef sharks are notorious for their docile demeanor during the day. Often found resting in caves or under coral ledges, they seem to have a daily siesta, allowing divers to observe their more relaxed side before they become more active during nighttime hunting expeditions.

White Tip Reef Sharks' Tandem Hunting: White tip reef sharks are known for their cooperative hunting behavior. They often hunt in groups, using a method known as "tandem swimming" to corral schools of fish into confined spaces, making it easier for them to catch their prey. On rare occasions this behavior can be observed at the Catalinas Islands on the South Point dive site.

White Tip Reef Sharks' Intricate Courtship Rituals: White tip reef sharks engage in elaborate courtship rituals that involve swimming together and nuzzling each other. These displays are not only fascinating to witness but also play a crucial role in the bonding process between potential mates.

5 Fun Facts - Rays

Costa Rica is a paradise for those who love to see rays under water. Here on our local dive sites we find a wide variety of ray species. When you come diving with us there is a good change you might encounter any of the following rays: Pacific spotted eagle ray, round sting ray, electric ray, leopard round stingray, longtail stingray, golden cownose ray, southern banded guitarfish, bullseye electric ray, butterfly ray, Pacific chupare stingray, spiny tail round stingray, Mobula Rays and even the Giant Manta Rays at Catalinas or Bats Islands.

Stingrays' Hidden Talents: Several species of stingrays inhabit Costa Rican waters, with the most iconic being the southern stingray. These rays are masters of camouflage, burying themselves in the sandy ocean floor, only their eyes and spiracles (respiratory openings) exposed. Despite their name, stingrays are generally docile and only use their venomous tail spines for defense.

Mobula Madness: Costa Rica is a seasonal playground for mobula rays, also known as devil rays. These acrobatic swimmers are known for their incredible leaping displays, often soaring several feet above the water's surface. The reasons behind these breathtaking jumps are not entirely understood but are believed to be related to communication, courtship, or the removal of parasites.

Ray Nursery Grounds: The shallow coastal areas of Costa Rica, such as those around the Gulf of Papagayo and Playas del Coco, serve as essential nursery grounds for many ray species. These protected environments provide a safe haven for juvenile rays to grow and develop before venturing into deeper waters.

Eagle rays bottom feeders: actively search for prey on the seafloor. Similar to stingrays, their mouths are positioned on the underside of their bodies. Notably, they possess a distinctive protruding snout, employed at times to sift through the sand in search of delectable meals. Categorized as carnivores, eagle rays feature specialized flat teeth specifically crafted for grinding and crushing crustaceans and mollusks. Despite this specialization, their dietary preferences are not limited, as they readily consume a variety of fare including worms, small fish, and even octopuses. This adaptability in their feeding habits highlights the diverse range of food sources they exploit in their underwater environments.

Electric defence: Similar to its relatives, the ocellated electric ray (bullseye electric ray) has a defense mechanism in the form of a moderate electric shock. During daylight hours, this solitary ray predominantly rests partially buried in the sand, frequently in proximity to rocky reefs. Its nocturnal behavior sees increased activity, with the ray utilizing its pelvic fins to "hop" along the seabed. The ocellated electric ray sustains itself by consuming small crustaceans like amphipods and shrimp, along with polychaete worms.

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