Giant guitarfish

DESCRIPTION

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.

DISTRIBUTION

Red Sea and tropical waters of the western Indian Ocean south to South Africa.

Scientific name: Rhynchobatus djiddenis
Common names: giant guitarfish, giant sandshark
Family: Rhinobatidae
Size: up to 280cm (about 12 to 13 years), 127 kg  

HABITAT

They occur along the coast in the surf zone off sandy beaches. 

DIET

Bottom-dwelling molluscs, crustaceans, squid and small fish.

REPRODUCTION

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.

BEHAVIOUR

This fish is nomadic, moving southwards to the Eastern Cape in summer and returning to KwaZulu-Natal in winter.

CAPTURE

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.

CONSERVATION STATUS

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.

SOURCES

Mann, B. Q. (Editor). Southern African Marine Linefish Species Profiles. O.R.I. South Africa, 2013.

Downloadable fact sheet

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