Sharks & Rays

Nurse Shark (Ginglymostoma cirratum) Caroline Rogers
Photo by Caroline Rogers

Nurse Shark (Ginglymostoma cirratum)

Nurse sharks, the most common shark seen around St. John, are found in tropical and subtropical waters of Eastern and Western Atlantic and Caribbean. They are nocturnal and are often seen by snorkelers and divers sleeping under rock ledges or coral heads.

Whale Shark, photo taken at Tektite in 2009.
Photo by Randy Fish

Whale Shark (Rhincodon typus)

The whale shark is the world's largest fish, and rivals the largest dinosaurs in weight. They can live up to 70 years of age. They are usually off shore so this sighting was a very rare and exciting occurrence for the photographer. This photo was taken in 2009.
Southern Stingray (Dasyatis americana) Caroline Rogers
Photo by Caroline Rogers

Southern Stingray (Dasyatis americana)

This flattened diamond-shaped creature can be seen cruising in the shallow waters with its nose buried in the sand looking for dinner or quietly waiting while almost entirely covered in sand. The slender tail has long serrated and venomous spine at the base which is used for defense. Though not fatal to humans, their stinger can be very painful if they are stepped on.

Spotted Eagle Ray (Aetobatus narinari)
Photo by Judy Buchholz

Spotted Eagle Ray (Aetobatus narinari)

Spotted eagle rays are a treat to see for divers and snorkelers. They are found in the tropical regions around the world. A mature spotted ray can reach 16 ft in length with a wingspan of up to 10 ft. They are sometimes seen cruising in our bays and near shorelines. It's a thrill if you get to see one leap from the water.

Caribbean Manta Ray (Manta sp. cf. birostris) Cristina Kessler
Photo by Cristina Kessler

Caribbean Manta Ray (Manta sp. cf. birostris)

The visit of a manta ray is an uncommon but exciting event on St. John. They are sometimes seen in the spring swimming in the bays and near shore while they feed on zooplankton. They appear to ignore divers and swimmers, but if you are lucky enough to see one, please stay clear. They are usually seen alone but group together in large numbers when migrating. The wingspan can range from 6 ft to up to 20 ft.
Lemon Shark (Negaprion brevirostris)
Photo by Richard Lincoln

Juvenile Lemon Shark (Negaprion brevirostris)

The lemon shark is usually yellowish with a pale underside, has a short, blunt snout and the dorsal fin is almost equal to the first fin. May be seen cruising inshore waters. This juvenile was seen in Francis Bay.

Last updated: October 28, 2021

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