Shovelnose Guitarfish
Rhinobatos productus

Physical Description

  • Flat-bodied fish, around 5 and a half feet long
  • Dullish gray color to blend in with the sand
  • They have long tails that make them resemble sharks more than rays. Their tails have two caudal fins of equal size
  • Thorns (enlarged denticles or scales) extending in single line down center of back and tail

Range

  • Northern California to Baja California, Mexico and around to Gulf of California

Habitat

  • Live in soft sandy or muddy bottoms, often near rocky reefs
  • Can live in water up to 39 feet deep

Diet

  • Bottom feeders; they eat benthic fishes, shrimp, worms, and crabs

Predators

  • Only known predators are large coastal sharks and California sea lions

Interesting Facts

  • Shovelnose guitarfish can pump water over their gills, so they are able to remain completely motionless.
  • Guitarfishes are actually skates, not stingrays. They do not have barbs or stingers, and are harmless to humans.
  • They live to be about 11-16 years old.
  • A female can give birth to 6-28 pups at once!
  • Shovelnose guitarfish can be eaten as seafood, often as “shark steaks.”

Sources: Oceana; California Sea Grant  

Photo: David R. Andrew

Want to see a shovelnose guitarfish in person? Visit Shark Shores at Birch Aquarium or the Living Coast Discovery Center!

 

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