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I'm Charlie Underwoood and I study the evolution of sharks and rays.
As most of the fossils I get are isolated teeth and denticles, most of which are very small, I need examples of the jaws and other 'fossilisable' parts of a number of types of modern small sharks (dogfish) and rays for comparison with the fossils. I can give details of may publications if you want- I have recorded the oldest fossils of dogfish, tope, stingray and whaler shark amongst others.
Although I certainly do not want anyone to kill anything on my behalf, if you catch and kill any rays of small sharks, could you please keep the jaws and possibly skin sections. These do not need to be fully prepared; you will find that the jaws cut away from the skull easily, cut of any loose flesh and either dry them in the sun of cover in salt. I will obviously pay any costs for this and postage. Data giving size, sex and where caught would be especially useful, with rays sex particularly so as teeth of males and females are very different.
I especially want bull huss (jaws, skin), spurdog (jaws, skin, fin spines from back) and thornback and spotted rays (jaws, skin from back), also stingray jaws and tail spine but I know these usually go back alive.
I would also like LS dogfish jaws or whole heads if easier, smoothhounds (jaws and skin) and any other rays (jaws, skin).

All material I use will end up in a museum collection; if there is any surplus I can trade this with workers in other countries so nothing would be wasted.

Thanks,
Charlie Underwood
School of Earth Sciences
Birkbeck College, University of London
Malet Street London WC1E 7HX
 

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The fish above mostly will be returned alive to the ocean by anglers. The fish you describe are also quite hardy, so there is very little chance, if any when the above fish don’t get successfully returned back to our oceans. So I don’t think we could help in that manner at all.

I’m sure a few anglers who are conservation minded wouldn’t mind recording the size, sex and location information of live fish if that would be of any use? A lot of us keep diaries so it shouldn’t be too much of a problem for a few of the dedicated ones out there to send you that info.

Mike Jr
 

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Strange request as when I studdied Marine Biology we dissected formaldehide preserved dogfish and smoothies as part of the course work ( it was 30 years ago ). I would have thought this request would be better directed to a licensed organisation such as Bangor university who have a marine biology unit with their own Ocean Science vessel, The Prince Madog. They would be licensed to collect such specimens for you, anglers most certainly would not be.

I would have thought the Natural History Museum at least would have the specimens, knowledge and information you seek already on record.

Sorry, personal decision, but I will not be collecting for you.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
I need fresh stuff rather than preserved, and cannot use museum material as they take exception to me removing the teeth to study in detail under the electron microscope. Mormalin damages the tooth microstructure. I can catch some of these myself, but the sites i fish they are generally rare and I only really get rare LS dogfish, male starry smoothhounds and possibly smalleyes. I just hoped someone based near where these are more common.
Charlie
 

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i go along with chrisp, i certainly wont be collecting, to be honest i dont like the idea. i think you should go elsewhere, just my opinion, also........
 

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Hi Charlie

As you might have gathered from the responses so far, Recreational Anglers much prefer to see their fish go back safe and well if they are not going to be retained for eating.

The species you are intersted in are not likely to be eaten by the angler, and so are returned.

I suggest that you might have more success directing your request toward a commercial fishing boat (although being profit driven they may expect a small 'contribution' in return)

Good luck with the studies
 

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I agree with Manx. You should be able to get all the material you need from the commercial boys - your local DEFRA or Sea Fisheries Committee should be able to advise you further.

To be honest, if you needed to acquire enough samples for a decent data set from anglers you'd probably be disappointed. While there are exceptions, most of the anglers I've met have only rarely (if ever) seen a ray landed. Many of us also choose to put them back. Then you've also got the problem of accurately recording the species, catch location, date etc.

For an accurate, scientifically verifiable study you need a large volume of samples and control of all the associated data. The trawler boys are the ones you want - lots of fish and accurate date/location info.

Personally, I could never kill a ray - too damn cute in an alien kind of way.

Rhod.
 

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In the (rather unlikely) event of me ever catching a ray I too would be unable to provide anything of use for study - I could not kill something that was smiling at me.....
 

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Try some of the charter skippers - although catch & release is encouraged, some fish are taken for eating and as these are commonly gutted afloat then it should be possible to obtain samples. Out of Aberystwyth they get bull huss and thornback ray and occasionally you come across an angler who insists on eating a few (yuk!). They also get tope but as it is commonly known that these taste like baby's nappies (not from personal experience - LOL!) they're 100% returned.

I get a fair few small eyed ray from the shore each year but I always put 'em back.

As said elsewhere the commercial boys might be a better bet.

Cheers - John
 

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Charlie
Unfortunately the species you are after are not the ones we keep to eat (generally), but if you contact some trawler owners I'm sure they will help, the only keep the wings of the rays so the carcase gets slung, & the dogs go back in on a shovel!
I'm sure as ChrisP said, the nearest Uni with a marine biology department will help, or try the Fish Research Establishment at Lowestoft.
If it was bass scales, mullet scales, plaice, dab or turbot heads we could help, but rays & growlers get "returned" with a few expletives to help them on their merry way!
blueskip
 

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Have to agree with the rest sorry, if i catch a Ray or Smooth hound or doggie much care is taken and there returned so as for amature dentistry sorry but no thank you.
 
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