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There are more than 1,250 species of cartilaginous fish—sharks and their relatives, the batoid fishes (including skates, rays, guitarfishes, and sawfishes) and chimaeras. Known as elasmobranchs, these fishes play important ecological roles in the many freshwater and marine habitats and are essential top-down managers. A quarter of the world’s sharks and rays are threatened with extinction according to The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, with ray species found to be at a higher risk than sharks. A first ever global analysis of these species carried out by the IUCN Shark Specialist Group found that the “rays, including sawfish, guitarfish, stingrays, and wedgefish, are generally worse off than the sharks, with five out of the seven most threatened families made up of rays,” and that “while public, media and government attention to the plight of sharks is growing, the widespread depletion of rays is largely unnoticed”.
The Florida Aquarium is involved with several cutting-edge elasmobranch reproduction research projects, specifically with bamboo sharks, sand tiger sharks, and southern stingrays. We are also in the process of developing a more comprehensive Shark and Ray Conservation Program. More to come!
Phone: (813) 273-4000