With avid curiosity for all things in our seas and oceans, we were intrigued to find this free book “Identification Guide to Common Sharks and Rays of the Caribbean” released by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations. Just as the title describes, it is a guide featuring a selection of shark and ray species occurring in the Wider Caribbean Region (Caribbean Sea, Gulf of Mexico, and the nearby waters of the Atlantic Ocean).
Why did the FAO release this book? The guide is intended to help fishery workers collecting catch data in the field in the identification of the sharks and rays they might encounter for the specific purpose of improving the quality of catch and landings data. The FAO noted a total of 41 shark and 20 ray species as being most relevant to commercial fisheries or vulnerable to exploitation due to their life history characteristics. The guide features 29 shark and 9 ray species they presented in a full species card and depicted with a color illustration and photo.
The “Identification Guide to Common Sharks and Rays of the Caribbean” is helpful to others outside of the fishing or scientific community. The guide features basic anatomical terminology illustrations that is quite helpful for the average person. The shark and ray feature cards also help identify specific characteristics of each shark and ray including size, color, shape, CITES listing habitat and unique characteristics and differentiation from other similar species.
You can download this guide as a free PDF from this FAO website.