Malta Shark & Ray Family Tree

36 known and identified Shark species within Maltese waters


PHYLUM: Chordata

CLASS: Chondrichthyes

SUBCLASS: Elasmobranchii


Order: Hexanchiformes (Cow and Frilled Sharks)

Family: Hexanchidae (Sixgill and Seven gill Sharks)

Heptranchias perloSharpnose Sevengill Shark 
Hexanchus griseusBluntnose Sixgill Shark 


Order: Squaliformes (Dogfish Sharks)

Family: Echinorhinidae (Bramble Sharks)

Echinorhinus brucusBramble Shark 

Family: Squalidae (Dogfish Sharks)

Squalus acanthiasPiked Dogfish (Spurdog) 
Squalus blainvilleiLongnose Spurdog 

Family: Centrophoridae (Gulper Sharks)

Centrophorus  granulosusGulper Shark 
Centrophorus uyatoDwarf Gulper Shark 

Family: Etmopteridae (Lantern Sharks)

Etmopterus spinaxVelvet Belly Shark 

Family: Somniosidae (Sleeper Sharks)

Centroscymnus coelolepisPortuguese Dogfish 

Family: Oxynotidae (Roughsharks)

Oxynotus centrinaAngular Rough Shark 

Family: Dalatiidae (Kitefin Sharks)

Dalatias lichaKitefin Shark 


Order: Squatiniformes (Angel Sharks)

Family: Squatinidae (Angel Sharks)

Squatina aculeataSawback Angel Shark 
Squatina oculataSmoothback Angel Shark 
Squatina squatinaAngel Shark 


Order: Lamniformes (Mackerel Sharks)

Family: Odontaspididae (Sandtiger Sharks)

Carcharias taurusSandtiger Shark 
Odontaspis feroxSmalltooth Sandtiger Shark 

Family: Alopiidae (Thresher Sharks)

Alopias superciliosusBigeye Thresher Shark 
Alopias vulpinusThresher Shark 

Family: Cetorhinidae (Basking Sharks)

Cetorhinus maximusBasking Shark 

Family: Lamnidae (Mackerel Sharks)

Carcharodon carchariasGreat White Shark 
Isurus oxyrinchusShortfin Mako Shark 
Lamna nasusPorbeagle Shark 


Order: Carcharhiniformes (Ground Sharks)

Family: Scyliorhinidae (Catsharks)

Galeus melastomusBlackmouth Catshark 
Scyliorhinus caniculaLesser spotted Catshark 
Scyliorhinus stellarisNursehound 

Family: Triakidae (Houndsharks)

Galeorhinus galeusTope / School Shark 
Mustelus asteriasStarry smoothhound 
Mustelus mustelusSmoothhound 
Mustelus punctulatusBlackspottedSmoothhound 

Family: Carcharhinidae (Requiem Sharks)

Carcharhinus brachyurusCopper / Bronze Whaler Shark 
Carcharhinus brevipinnaSpinner Shark 
Carcharhinus limbatusBlacktip Shark 
Carcharhinus obscurusDusky Shark 
Carcharhinus plumbeusSandbar Shark 
Prionace glaucaBlue Shark 

Family: Sphyrnidae (Hammerhead Sharks)

Sphyrna zygaenaSmooth Hammerhead 

11 known and identified Ray species within Maltese waters


PHYLUM: Chordata

CLASS: Chondrichthyes

SUBCLASS: Elasmobranchii



Atlantic torpedo Ray – Torpedo nobiliana (Bonaparte, 1835)

Spotted Torpedo Ray – Torpedo marmorata (Risso, 1810)

Common Torpedo Ray – Torpedo torpedo (Linnaeus, 1758)


Roughtail Stingray – Dasyatis centroura (Mitchill, 1815)

Common Stingray – Dasyatis pastinaca (Linnaeus, 1758)

Pelagic Stingray – Pteroplatytrygon violacea (Bonaparte, 1832)


Spiny Butterfly Ray – Gymnura altavela (Linnaeus, 1758)


Common Eagle Ray – Myliobatis aquila (Linnaeus, 1758)

Bull Ray – Pteromylaeus bovinus (Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire, 1817)


Lusitanian Cownose Ray – Rhinoptera marginata (Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire, 1817)


Giant Devil Ray  –  Mobula mobular (Bonnaterre, 1788)

11 known and identified Skate species within Maltese waters


PHYLUM: Chordata

CLASS: Chondrichthyes

SUBCLASS: Elasmobranchii



Blue Skate           –           Dipturus batis (Linnaeus, 1758)

Longnosed Skate  –          Dipturus oxyrinchus (Linnaeus, 1758)

Shagreen Ray      –           Leucoraja fullonica (Linnaeus, 1758)

Maltese Ray        –           Leucoraja melitensis (Clark, 1926)

Cuckoo Ray        –           Leucoraja naevus (Miller & Henle, 1841)

Starry Ray          –           Raja asterias (Delaroche, 1809)

Thornback Ray    –           Raja clavata (Linnaeus, 1758)

Brown Ray          –           Raja miraletus (Linnaeus, 1758)

Spotted Ray        –           Raja montagui (Fowler, 1910)

Rough Ray          –           Raja radula (Delaroche, 1809)

Bottlenosed Skate –         Rostroraja alba (Lacephde, 1803)


An introduction to Chondrichthyes / Cartilaginous fish

Sharks, rays and skates belong to the group Elasmobranchii, chimaeras which are a very close relative belong to the group Holocephali. Elasmobranchii and Holocephali together form the taxonomic family called Chondrichthyes or Cartilaginous fishes. As the name suggests all of the members of this family have a simple skeletal structure formed from cartilage.

This distinguishes the family from other fishes whose skeletal structure is made up from bone. Some of the cartilaginous skeletal structures of Chondrichthyans are strengthened and hardened by the process of mineralisation (also referred to as calcification), whereby various salts are deposited into growing cartilage, but they do not have any “true” bone structure.


Extant or still living species of sharks are shown in taxonomic order in the diagram above. Sharks are spread across eight biological orders which are listed in roughly evolutionary order (primitive to modern), and the families and genera within the orders are listed in alphabetical order.

The Family groups:

Hexanchiformes: –     Cow and Frilled Sharks

Squaliformes: –         Bramble Sharks, Dogfish Sharks, Gulper Sharks, Lantern Sharks

Pristiophoriformes: –  Saw Sharks

Squatiniformes: –      Angel Sharks

Heterodontiformes: – Bullhead and Horn Sharks

Orectolobiformes: –   Carpet Sharks, Nurse Sharks, Whale Sharks, Wobbegongs

Lamniformes: –          Basking Sharks, Mackerel Sharks, Thresher Sharks

Carcharhiniformes: –   Catsharks, Hammerhead Sharks, Houndsharks, Requiem Sharks

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