Shark Books

The following selection of shark and ray books represents a cross section of the popular literature available on elasmobranch fishes. They are not all necessarily recommended reading but are included to give the reader a somewhat subjective outline of their content. Many of the books are comprehensive enough to warrant inclusion in more than one area but to avoid repetition they are listed where their content is most noteworthy. More shark books are slated to be added to the list as soon as I wade through them.

3 elasmos = Excellent (don’t go shark diving without it).

2 elasmos = Worth a read (good shark content).

1 elasmo = Only for shark book junkies.

0 elasmos = One for the chum bucket.

Did you know… when you buy at or through these links, part of you purchase supports Elasmodiver. Thank you for your support!



Shark and Ray Field Guides — Identification

Global Shark and Ray Identification Books

Rays of the World Book CSIRO
Rays of the World
Last, White, de Carvalho, Seret, Stehmann, and Naylor. CSIRO

An exceptional body of work filled with well-written descriptions by a who’s-who of renowned shark taxonomists and beautiful illustrations by Lindsay Marshall. This unparalleled guide covers all 633 batoid species valid at the time of writing in 2016. A PDF addendum is available covering new species and explaining some of the more radical taxonomic changes that the book proposes.
The guide is organized into 26 ray families, and includes a description of each family group and an illustrated key to genera.
This 790 page tome is enormous and far too heavy to use in the field but an ebook version is also available.
I can’t say enough good things about Rays of the World. For anyone that wants a deeper understanding of batoid diversity, this book is truly indispensable.

Sharks of the World - Book
Sharks of the World
Ebert, Fowler, and Dando

An excellent and exhaustive identification guide to all of the world’s shark species. David Ebert and Sarah Fowler include good descriptions and interesting notes on the life history of each species. Combined with  beautiful illustrations by Marc Dando, Sharks of the world is easily the best guide available for identifying sharks.

Sharks of the World Book Compagno
Sharks of the World
Leonard Compagno, Marc Dando, and Sarah Fowler

A highly comprehensive yet small enough field guide to bring on an actual field trip. Published in 2005, Sharks of the world is now slightly outdated but the omitted new species are mostly rare, deepwater species that you are unlikely to stumble across anyway.
The guide contains well proportioned line drawings and colour plates with excellent illustrations by Marc Dando.

Sharks and Rays Elasmobranch Guide Hennemann
SHARKS & RAYS Elasmobranch Guide of the World
Ralf M. Hennemann

An interesting photographic guide to sharks and rays. As well as the more commonly photographed species, Hennemann includes numerous rarely seen deep water sharks. The species accounts are interspersed with interesting anecdotal stories. Some of the information is quite outdated but this guide is still a worthy addition to your library if you can find a copy.

Reef Sharks and Rays of the World
Reef Sharks & Rays of the World
Scott W Micheal

A compact guide to the identification of the most likely elasmobranchs you will find on the world’s rocky and coral reefs. Reef Sharks and Rays of the World includes a very respectable list of species including lots of rays. Could do with an update.

Mantas and Devil Rays of the World Book
Mantas and Devil Rays of the World
Guy Stevens, Daniel Fernando, Marc Dando, and Guiseppe Notarbartolo di Sciara

A well researched and detailed summary of the world’s mobulids. The guide includes excellent anatomical sketches by Marc Dando that highlight the subtle differences between closely related species. The guide also includes more than 200 photographs (including mine) to represent each species and demonstrate specific behaviours.
An excellent addition to any elasmobranch enthusiast’s library.

Freshwater Rays of the World book
Freshwater Rays
Richard A. Ross & Frank Shafer. Aqualog.

A valiant (if antiquated) attempt to catalog all of the freshwater rays by species and variation. Also included is a basic guide to a selection of sawfishes, guitarfishes and marine stingrays that enter freshwater environments. There are unique descriptions of family differences among the stingrays and many of the species portrayed are rarely represented in other field guides.
Freshwater Rays contains hundreds of colourful photographs and illustrations and extensive text on each species in German and English. Since publication, this fascinating family has undergone a major taxonomic revision, rendering this particular guide somewhat obsolete, but it is still an interesting read for ray enthusiasts and has become something of a collector’s item.

Sharks Andrea and Antonella Ferrari
Andrea and Antonella Ferrari – Firefly

124 species descriptions of sharks, rays, and chimaeras plus an overview of elasmobranch biology, evolution, and behavior. Although not as complete some other ID guides this book contains rich photographs of representative species.

Regional Shark and Ray Identification Books

Sharks of North America book Jose Castro
Sharks of North America
Jose Castro

Indisputably, the most in-depth, thoroughly researched treatise on North American sharks ever written. Jose Castro’s enormous 613 page tome describes in great detail all of the 135 shark species that occur within 500 nautical miles of the shores of North America. Castro paints a refreshingly realistic picture of each species by dismissing uncorroborated, sensationalist claims of maximum size, longevity, or litter size, instead providing accurate references for each conservative statistic; including many of his own observations from the field.
Combined with beautiful illustrations by Diane Rome Peebles that depict each species at different stages of maturity, Sharks of North America is the ultimate reference tool.

Sharks and Rays of Australia
Sharks and Rays of Australia (Second Edition)

A thorough and beautifully illustrated Guide to every Australian elasmobranch and their kin. The first thing you’ll notice is that this guide is truly massive! It is the size of an average picture book but 3 inches thick. Size may not be everything but the content of this book is equally impressive. Each species account includes detailed notes on identification, range, and habits, of all known sharks, rays, and chimaeras, that have been found to date in Australian waters. The last section of the book contains detailed colour plates of each species. The only drawback of this book is that it is too big to carry around on shark trips.

Sharks, Rays, and Chimaeras of Europe and the Mediterranean
Sharks, Rays, and Chimaeras of Europe and the Mediterranean
David A. Ebert and Marc Dando

An extremely thorough, well written field guide. In particular, Marc Dando outdid himself with the excellent illustrations for each species. The book also contains comparison pages highlighting the subtle differences between similar species, and includes sections dedicated to egg cases and tooth shapes. It is one of the few guides that includes illustrations of deep sea  chimaeras.
Sharks, Rays, and Chimaeras of Europe and the Mediterranean is a work of art.

Sharks, Rays, and Chimaeras of California Book
Sharks, Rays, and Chimaeras of California
David A. Ebert

University of California Press. A well researched local guide to all species recorded to have visited California waters. Each of the 68 listed species are described in as much detail as is available for the purpose of identification as well as a good overview of behavior and physiology. A very thorough guide.

Sharks and Rays of Borneo Book
Sharks and Rays of Borneo
Peter Last, et al.

Simplistic in its approach, Sharks and Rays of Borneo foregoes wordy descriptions of each species. Instead, the authors list key identifying traits in bullet point form and include photographic close-ups to illustrate important details. The book also includes detailed maps of the known collection points (compiled from fisheries data) for each of the 118 species found in Borneon waters.
For anyone wishing to locate a specific species (and be sure of what they are looking at) there is no better guide.

Sharks and Rays of Papua New Guinea Book
Sharks and Rays of Papua New Guinea
William White, et al.

A useful guide, written in a similar style to Sharks and Rays of Borneo but with less detailed images and lacking fisheries maps. The remarks sections are quite enlightening; often stating each species specific range within PNG or commenting on potential future splits between regional variants.

Sharks, skates, rays, and chimeras of British Columbia
Sharks, Skates, Rays, and Chimeras of British Columbia
Gordon McFarlane and Jackie King, with photography by Andy Murch

A useful guide to the elasmobranchs and chimeras that occur off the coast of western Canada. McFarlane and King include straightforward information to help identify each species from one another, plus range, biology, ecology, and historical usage by Canada’s first nations people where applicable. Here and there they also add ‘shark bites’ fun facts and statistics about sharks and rays.
The guide also contains underwater photographs by Andy Murch (creator of of each shark, ray, and chimera that occurs in shallow water.

Sharks of the Shallows Book
Sharks of the Shallows – Coastal Species in Florida and The Bahamas
Jeff Carrier, with images by Andy Murch, Jillian Morris, an Duncan Brake

John Hopkins University Press. A thorough guide to the shallow water species that divers and anglers are likely to see in Florida and the Bahamas. Carrier dedicates multiple pages to each species, including thorough descriptions highlighting key anatomical features, life history traits, and conservation management, all written in Jeff’s playful prose that keeps the reader interested. The book contains hundreds of images by myself and Duncan and Jillian Brake and includes Duncan’s beautiful illustrations.

Sharks and Rays of Southern Africa Book
Guide to the Sharks and Rays of Southern Africa
Compagno, Ebert, and Smale

A handy identification guide with short descriptions and basic life history info on each elasmobranch and chimaera known to occur in the region at the time of writing. The species illustrations are relatively simple but adequate and well proportioned. First published in 1989, some of the information is quite out of date, but it is still a handy reference.

Sharks of tropical and temperate seas book
Sharks of Tropical and Temperate Seas
R.H. Johnson – Pisces Books

A fine Identification guide to the sharks of the South Pacific region (Polynesia). Containing in depth information on the behavioral patterns of many local species. The author includes detailed species descriptions that greatly help in the differentiation of many requiem sharks.

Sharks, Skates, and Rays of the Gulf of Mexico book
Sharks, Skates, and Rays of the Gulf of Mexico
Glenn R. Parsons

University Press of Mississippi. Describes all of the known elasmobranches from the gulf region. The lengthy biology paragraph on each species contains information on diet, sexual maturity, habitat, and the authors personal observations. This style of presentation makes it a little difficult to quickly pull facts off the page but the information is accurate and up to date. Parsons includes the species status (if known) which should help anglers to identify animals at risk from over-fishing and a short section on shark conservation builds on this topic but unfortunately the author is a proponent of shark fishing and the book also contains lengthy chapters on the rudiments of the sport.

Field Guide to Australian Sharks and Rays R.K.Daley
Field Guide to Australian Sharks and Rays
R.K.Daley, J.D.Stevens, P.R.Last, and G.K.Yearsley

A CSIRO Publication. A useful little guide with ranges and descriptions of many common species encountered by anglers around Australia. The photographs are mainly of dead specimens and included with each species is a key indicating how it is usually caught and whether it is the targeted species or bycatch. Also included is interesting information on specimen storage, data collection, and tagging.

Western Australian Sharks and Shark-like Rays
Field identification guide to Western Australian Sharks and Shark-like Rays
R. McAuley, D. Newbound, R. Ashworth Dept. of Fisheries, Gov. of W.A.

A useful booklet describing each of the species found in W.A. with representative species drawings and colour maps showing specific distributions.

Field Identification Guide to the Sharks and Rays of the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden
Field Identification Guide to the Sharks and Rays of The Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden
Ramon Bonfil and Mohamed Abdallah. FAO 2004

An extremely thorough guide covering the majority of recognized species present with useful illustrations and photographs to aid in identification. Includes illustrations on teeth variation, eye shape, and snout proportions, as well as overall shape and coloration. The accompanying text is concise but well rounded and includes ID, habital and biology, and fisheries information. Available online as a PDF.

Sharks and Rays of Australia Book Aitken
Sharks and Rays of Australia
Kelvin Aitken, New Holland Publishers 1998

TA straight forward guide to the families present in Australian waters. Considering that Australia is so species rich it would be nice to read a more in depth guide to the area. Small but well illustrated.

Buy this book through this Amazon link to support

Sharks and Rays of the Carolinas book
Sharks, Skates, and Rays of the Carolinas
Frank J. Schwartz. University of NC Press

A very thorough guide with detailed drawings and some photographs depicting all of the 91 elasmobranch species that have been recorded in North and South Carolinas waters. The section dedicated to deep water skates covers more species than most world guides.

The well written introduction includes a section analyzing the data gathered from local shark attacks.

A very useful local reference book for divers, anglers, and shark fans.

Buy this book through this Amazon link to support

Sharks and other Predatory Fish Goadby
Sharks and other Predatory Fish of Australia
Peter Goadby – Jacaranda Press 1959

Like most shark and ray field guides of its time, Sharks and other Predatory Fish leans heavily towards shark fishing and the danger posed by supposed man-eaters. One section is entitled ‘Are sharks good to eat’ and in another section attacks by sharks are split into 3 unusual catagories: the curious attack (where the shark simply nibbles at a swimmer), the accidental attack (where the shark gently tears tissue with his teeth), and the ‘fair dinkum’ attack (where the victim is seriously mangled when the sharks drive their teeth into bones and break them off). – great descriptives!

eikapsels van haaien en roggen
“eikapsels van haaien en roggen”
Peter Bor (in dutch), and published in 1998

This 48 pages book describes the egg-capsules of 11 species of skates and 2 species of catsharks, washed ashore on the Dutch coast.

Australian Sharks P. K. Whitley
Australian Sharks
G.P.Whitley – 1940

Originally containing drawings and updated with b/w photographs, Whitley’s shark id book is geared towards fishers and has little relevance today. A brief introduction includes information on ‘shark usefulness’, attacks, and diet.

Shark Diving

Diving with Sharks Book Nigel Marsh and Andy Murch
Nigel Marsh and Andy Murch (Creator of

An excellent ‘how-to’ guide written specifically for shark diving enthusiasts. Diving with Sharks covers all aspects of shark diving and photography and includes a large section detailing where to find and dive with most shark species that are accessible to divers.

The Shark Watchers Handbook
Mark Carwardine and Ken Watterson. Princeton University Press

This is an excellent resource for any shark diver. Spanning the worlds recognized shark diving destinations it examines what species can be regularly seen at each site and lists available dive operators. An identification guide is also included for common shark species. Ken is the founder of the Basking shark Society.

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Red Sea Sharks
Jeremy Stafford-Deitsch. Trident Press.

This guide aimed specifically at divers covers the basics for safe and responsible interactions with the Red Sea ’s common shark species. Jeremy has included many of his spectacular photographs of reef scenes showing requiem sharks in an artistic and non threatening way.

Buy this book through this Amazon link to support

Great Shark Adventures – Marty Snyderman. Key Porter Books. A collection of diving stories compiled by a renowned shark photographer. Drawing heavily from his experiences with his friends Stan Waterman and Howard Hall, Marty often humorously conveys his love of sharks and the oceans.

Buy this book through this Amazon link to support

Raggie Sanctuary
Chano Montelongo. DeeoBlue Video.

The premise of this book is to describe the habitat, behavior, and diving opportunities around the Ragged-toothed shark (sandtiger) in South Africa. The original Spanish version may be ok but the horrendous translation makes this book very difficult to read. The only useful info concerns the specific sites where elasmos that can be found at in Aliwol Shoal. The book also contains a mediocre DVD.

Shark Magazines

Dive Magazine
Shark Special

This is an excellent one time compilation of Dive’s previously printed shark articles and new encounters. This issue was published with a DVD containing footage of Dive’s “Top Ten” shark species. Rumor has it that another edition may follow.

Shark Focus
Published by The Shark Trust

An informative magazine/newsletter that illustrates the ongoing work of the Trust and explains the opportunities for involvement. Also included are articles on different aspects of human/shark interactions, shark related current affairs, the plight of specific sharks and rays, and shark information resources. To receive Shark Focus become a member of the Shark Trust.

Sharks & Divers, and Shark Diver
Published by Skin Diver Magazine

Skin Diver produced many supplements in its later years including 3 dedicated to shark diving. Although well received no further supplements were produced. Good reading for shark divers if you can find a copy.

Shark Diver Magazine

Published specifically about the sport of shark diving. Shark Diver contains articles on the best locations for shark interactions around the world and true stories about divers personal encounters with sharks.

Shark Diver Magazine Issue 1

Shark Feeding
Great hammerheads in the Bahamas
Australia’s White sharks
Threshers at Malapascua in the Philippines
Whale sharks in Texas
Africa’s flying White sharks

Shark Diver Magazine Issue 2

Tigers and Bull sharks in Fiji
Greenland sharks in Canada
Erich Ritter on sharks
California sharks leopards, horns, swells, angels, blues, and makos
Bahamas sharks

Shark Diver Magazine Issue 3

Silky sharks in Cuba
Salmon shark tagging in Alaska
Caribbean reef shark profile
Wounded Tiger shark
Bull shark tagging
Stan Waterman’s White shark Encounter

Shark Diver Magazine Issue 4

Lemon shark Aggregations in Florida
Guy Harvey interview
Fooling around with Blue sharks
Reef sharks in Tahiti
Megamouth encounter
West Coast Blue sharks
Bimini Shark Lab

Shark Diver Magazine Issue 5

Great White Heaven – Guadelupe Island
Spiny dogfish at Quadra Island
Palau reef sharks
Galapagos Adventure
Sea of Cortez Whale sharks and Hammers
Bronze whaler shark bait ball
Scalloped Hammerheads in Cocos Island
East Coast Blue sharks

Shark Diver Magazine Issue 6

Identifying Great white sharks
Australia’s Grey nurse sharks
High action White shark cage encounter
Great hammerheads and Tigers
Bull sharks feeding in Fiji
Greenland shark encounter
Threat displays

Shark Diver Magazine Issue 7

Whitetip reef sharks
Wobbegongs in Peril
Oceanic whitetip encounter
Tigers at night
Shark finning
Blue shark bait balls
Cape Town White sharks

Shark Diver Magazine Issue 8

Tiger shark encounter
Smalltooth Sawfish research
Zebra sharks in Thailand
Shark slaughter in Malpelo
Bull Shark encounter
Nurse sharks
Wyland on fear of sharks

Shark Diver Magazine Issue 9

Mozambique Mantas
Bull Shark tagging
How to shoot sharks
Basking sharks in Cornwall
Sandtigers of North Carolina
Whites in South Africa
Tiger shark snorkeling

Shark Diver Magazine Issue 10

Whitetips hunting at night
Galapagos shark slaughter
Holbox Whale Sharks
Sixgill Sharks on Vancouver Island
Catalina Blue Sharks
Guadalupe White Shark Encounter

Shark Diver Magazine Issue 11

Thorntail Stingray encounter in Western Australia
Galapagos Adventure
Tigers and Silvertips in Yap
Tasseled Wobbegongs
Guy Harvey on finning
Bahamas Lemon Sharks
Fossil shark tooth hunting in Cooper River
Bulls and Tigers in Fiji

Shark Diver Magazine Issue 12

Shark Divers
Whale shark festival in the Phillipines
Blacknose sharks and Caribbean Reef Sharks in St Maarten
Prickly Sharks and the DeepSee sub at Cocos Island
Whale Shark Encounter
Cocos Island Baitball
Spiny Dogfish

Shark Diver Magazine Issue 13

SDM takes a more radical approach in this issue by glorifying the extreme aspects of the controversial sport of shark diving.

Oceanic Odyssey – Oceanic Whitetip Encounter in the Red Sea. Good images of an increasingly hard to find shark.
Stranger in the night – a surprise run in with a Scalloped Hammerhead.
Cornish Catsharks – diving with the Lesser Spotted Catshark.
Basker in the Bay – Snorkelling with Basking Sharks in New England
Mako Madness – Cover Story. Tagging Shortfin Makos off of San Diego. Amazing wide angle close-up photography of Makos mouthing the camera.
Niuhi – Free swimming with an enormous Great White Shark in Hawaii.
Life List – 32 extreme experiences that sharks divers could have before they quit. Very radical content.
Looking out from inside the glass – diving in the Houston Aquarium.
Chasing Sharks (part 1) – the making of the upcoming SDM TV show

Shark Diver Magazine Issue 14

12. CAPE COD by Tom Burns
16. GHOST SHARK by Andy Murch
20. HARDCORE SHARK DIVER Featuring Jimmy Hall
26. PHOTO FRUSTRATIONS by Paul Spielvogel
32. AUSTRALIAN SHARKS by Nigel Marsh
38. TIGER IN THE MURK by Ken Steil
42. BEHIND THE LENS with the editor of SDM

Shark Diver Magazine Issue 15

AUSSIE SWELL SHARKS – Nigel Marsh on the Australian Swell Shark or Draughtsboard Shark
THE KILL ZONE – Ian Lauder on South African breaching behavior

Shark Diver Magazine Issue 16

NIGEL MARSH’S- DOWN UNDER SERIES Nigel brings us the tawny nurse shark.
MEG TOOTH HUNTING IN NORTH CAROLINA Woody Tinsley tells the tail about a secret spot in the NC
FISH ROCK. – Andy Murch
NOTES FROM A SHARK JUNKYS JOURNAL Eli on the porbeagle shark
PHOTO FRUSTRATIONS – Paul Spielvogel seeks out bull sharks in Costa Rica
THE ABC’s of SHARK CAGES – Eddie Paul shows us the do’s and don’ts of building your own shark cage
HOLLYWOOD SHARKS – A behind the scenes look at the award winning documentary, SHARKWATER.
LAST WORDS – with SHARKWATER’S director, Rob Stewart.

Shark Diver Magazine Issue 17

-Whale sharks in Sogod Bay, Philippines, by Nigel Marsh
-Tail shots by Walte Heim
-Cousteau’s great white shark, by Eddie Paul
-Great Hammerheads in the Bahamas, by Paul Spielvogel
-Threshers and Oceanics in the Red Sea, by Matt Newell
-Tigers, bulls, lemons in Fiji, by Bill Fisher
-California swell sharks by Andy Murch
-Interview with AirJaws producer, Jeff Kurr
-Notes from the road, Fiji, with Eli Martinez
Cover by Paul Spielvogel

Shark Diver Magazine Issue 18

-Shar-Grey nurse sharks off Sydney, Australia, by Nigel Marsh
-Scalloped Hammerheads off Venice, LA, by Nathan Meadows
-Shark Photography, ‘Handling sharks’, by Andy Murch
-Interview with Lawrence Groth
-Artist profile, Heather Ryan
-Aquarium Diver series, by Janelle Case
-Photographer profile, Ian Lauder
-Greenland sharks in St. Lawrence, Can. by Andy Murch
-Blue sharks off Rhode Island, by Tom Burns
-Producer interview, James Gelet, “The shark is still working” a tribute to the legacy of Jaws.
Cover by Tom Burns

Shark Diver Magazine Issue 19

-Sharks of the South Pacific, by Michael Salvarezza, and Christopher Weaver
-The Money shot. Sandtiger in North Carolina, by David Ulloa
-Oceanics in Bahamas, by Douglas Ebersole
-Whale Shark baitball off Africa, by Felipe Barrio
-Producer profile, with Scott Gurney
-Common angel shark off Canaries, Spain, by Andy Murch
-Whale Sharks off Holbox Island, MX, by Tyler Ham
-White sharks in Guadalupe, MX by Tom Burns
-Aquarium Diver, cat sharks in the North Sea Aquarium, by Ronald Faber

Shark Diver Magazine Issue 20
Shark Diver Magazine Issue 21