Shovelnose Guitarfish

Scientific Name: Rhinobatos productus

Distribution: San Francisco to southern Mexico, including the Gulf of California.

Habitat: Found from 3 to 298 ft (1-91) but most common from 3-40 ft of water (1-12 m). Commonly found on soft seafloors and next to kelp beds.

Behavior: Shovelnose guitarfish tend to remain buried in sand during the day and are active at night. Within estuaries, Shovelnose guitarfish are thought to select mud bottom habitats and areas with warm water. In a translocation study (transporting animals from one location to another), shovelnose guitarfish were found to be able to home (or return to) the estuary they were caught in (6.2 miles (10 km) away). In general, it took shovelnose guitarfish 3 days or less to return to their home estuary (the one they were captured in) after leaving the estuary they were transferred to. Shovelnose guitarfish eat benthic invertebrates and fishes, with the larger shovelnose guitarfish eating more fish in their diet. Shovelnose guitarfish have a gestation period of around 12 months and can birth 1- 28 pups.

Why it is important: While not an important commercial fishery in itself, shovelnose guitarfish are a major bycatch in the trawl shrimp fishery. Shovelnose guitarfish are also occasionally caught and retained by subsistence fishers. Because estuaries have very short food webs, Shovelnose guitarfish are important predators in keeping these ecosystems healthy. Shovelnose guitarfish are also a species listed under OEHHA’s consumption guidelines for southern California due to contamination.

Sources: FishBase, Love 2011, Farrugia et al. 2011, Freedman et al. 2015

Quick Facts

Scientific Name: Rhinobatos productus

Conservation Status (IUCN): Near threatened

Lifespan: 16 years

Age at Maturity: Females 7-8 years; Males 7-9 years

Maximum Weight: 21.5 lbs (9.8 kg)

Speed: Max is 11.56 body lengths per min or 0.35 mph

Maximum Length: 5.2 ft (1.6 m)

Habitat: Temperate, open coast, embayments, estuaries

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