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I read this book about 8 years ago but don’t know how old it was when I read it. It starts in the near future on a heavily polluted earth where one of the ways to make good money is to go to a different planet to work when you’re a child. The main character goes in place of his brother and ends up on a ship on an ocean planet, I forget what they were collecting principally but it involved hunting these rare giant rays for their spines. They eventually find a cove where they come to spawn but there are natives there to protect the rays (this part is fuzzy). But I remember the reveal at the end was they were actually time traveling to when earth was all ocean to hunt now extinct rays which is why they aren’t in the fossil record at all.

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This sounds like The Beast of Cretacea by Todd Strasser (2015). I definitely remember the YA protagonist believing he was going to space, hunting the rays, and the big reveal at the end that he'd time-travelled instead and their were hunting prehistoric creatures.

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