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Underwater photography: images of sharks taken while scuba diving
Hammerheads | great white sharks | whalesharks | nurse sharks | reef sharks | epaulette sharks
Phylum: Chordata Class: Chondrichthyes Subclass: Elasmobranchii Superorder: Selachimorpha
Christmas Island Tourism advertisementSitting right at the top of the marine food chain, sharks are in the scientific superorder Selachimorpha. Beneath this, there are 14 'orders'.
A simpler way to describe their diversity is to state that there are 440 shark species in our oceans.

Sharks are found in all the seas on the planet. They will live in any environment with some travelling to depths of 2,000 metres, sometimes more. The Great White shark and the hammerhead sit at the very top of the apex predator chain while others, like filter feeding basking sharks are completely harmless. Shark lifespans vary but most live 20 to 30 years. Whale sharks (Rhincodon typus) may live for over 100 years.

These amazing animals vary from the deep sea dwarf lanternshark, which measures just 17 centimetres (7 inches) long, to the majestic and placid whale shark (or whaleshark), Rhincodon typus, which can reach as much as 12 metres (39 ft) as adults.

While sharks are seen as the ultimate predators, their survival continues to be threatened by man and in particular, by commercial fishing practices. It is estimated that 100 million sharks are killed every year in this way. There are many shark species listed on the IUCN Red List as critically endangered, endangered or threatened. Those not listed as endangered are listed as vulnerable. Very few shark species are listed as stable and none are said to be increasing in numbers.

image gallery

click any image to enlarge
Int. = intermediate stage
Juv.= juvenile

For more information on shark conservation projects,

Shark encounters

Guadalupe Island
North East Coast
Carcharodon carcharias
COMMON NAME: Great White shark


Guadalaupe Island lying off the Pacific Coast of Mexico, is one of the few places where divers (and non-divers) can get up close and personal with a Great White shark and be perfectly safe.

Cage diving may not seem "right" but thi sis an amazing experience. The sharks are highly protected under Mexican law and the water is not chummed to attract them. Despite that, there are often four of five circling the boat at any one time.

french angelfish in Grenada
SPECIES NAMES | Many fish can be hard to identify as they are so similar. Common names vary and even scientists disagree on what is what. If you can name anything we can't, please get in touch.

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