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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Fish Bulletin No. 75. California Sharks and Rays


In all, 29 species of sharks, 17 rays and one ratfish are on record from California. The sharks and rays represent a very muddled group as far as scientific understanding of the species is concerned. Particularly with the larger sharks, it is hard to preserve specimens in museums, and a proper comparison of similar individuals from different parts of the world is very difficult. The literature is confused and much remains to be done in determining just what kinds do exist. It may well be that some kinds which we now regard as species separate from, say, their Atlantic counterparts actually do not differ from them at all. Conversely, some of those species now credited with a world-wide distribution may prove to be divisible into several species each with a limited range.

All of the species reported from California are described in the pages which follow. Some are very common, while others are known from only one or two specimens. Anyone who catches one of the rare ones—or, as quite well can happen, one which is not even on record from the State—should make every effort to save it and to get in touch with the nearest scientific institution. What little we know of many of our rare species we owe largely to fishermen who have recognized specimens as being unusual and have seen to it that they were preserved.

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