Footage of a shovel nose ray swimming along the Busselton foreshore was captured by Bonnie Mitchell on Wednesday.
The video was made after the Mail reported a swimming group in Busselton were given the fright of their lives when they saw a shark-like creature trapped in the shark nets near the jetty earlier that day.
Western Australian Museum curator of fishes Dr Glenn Moore said the fish were rays and not sharks.
Dr Moore said there were two main families that looked very similar to each other – the shovel nose rays (Rhinobatidae) and wedge fishes (Rhynchobatidae).
“The most likely species in Busselton is the Western shovel nose ray. A related species, Southern fiddler ray is also common in the area, but it has a rounded snout,” he said.
“The wedge fishes are generally tropical, found in Northern Australia, but sometimes found along the West Coast. These are less likely to be in Geographe Bay, but rising sea temperatures and the Leeuwin current mean they could appear further south than usual.”
Dr Moore said shovel nose rays spend their foraging on muddy or sandy seafloors, hunting for shells, crustaceans and small fishes.
He said they were also active scavengers that were attracted to baits and dead fish.
“They are generally quiet and unassuming. Unlike many other rays, shovel nose rays and wedge fishes have no spines,” he said.
Dr Moore said the Western shovel nose ray grew to about 85cm and the Southern Fiddler Ray reached about 1.5 metres; the largest species of wedge fish could get to nearly 3m.
“Both the Western shovel nose ray and the Southern fiddler ray were very common in Geographe Bay – it is their perfect habitat,” he said.