It has a noticeably long snout, making the head longer than it is wide. The upper surface has many white spots on a khaki to dark-brown background.
Red Sea and tropical waters of the western Indian Ocean south to South Africa.
Scientific name: Rhynchobatus djiddenis
Common names: giant guitarfish, giant sandshark
Size: up to 280cm (about 12 to 13 years), 127 kg
They occur along the coast in the surf zone off sandy beaches.
Bottom-dwelling molluscs, crustaceans, squid and small fish.
Males mature at 1-2 years (156cm) and females at 2-3 years (177cm). Their breeding season is in summer in northern KwaZulu-Natal. They are ovo-viviparous (produce live young from eggs stored in the body), producing about four pups of 60cm.
This fish is nomadic, moving southwards to the Eastern Cape in summer and returning to KwaZulu-Natal in winter.
They are commonly caught by shore anglers, forming an important component of shore fishing competitions (where most are released). North of South Africa artisanal fisheries and foreign long-liners target them for meat and their high-value fins.
Vulnerable. Anglers have expressed concern at the decline in number and size of this species since the early 1990s. This fish appears to be overfished and there is a need to manage commercial harvesting and trade across its range.
Mann, B. Q. (Editor). Southern African Marine Linefish Species Profiles. O.R.I. South Africa, 2013.