To see photographs of the White-spotted Guitarfish (Rhynchobatus
djiddensis) click here.
White-spotted Guitarfish (Rhynchobatus djiddensis)
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protected: © 2002 Kelvin Aitken.
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Sharkfin Guitarfish are rays with two tall dorsal fins and a large scythe-like
tail. Swimmers and divers often mistake them for sharks due to their fins,
swimming motion and large size. There are two sharkfin guitarfish in Australian
waters; both feed on crabs and shelled invertebrates.
The White-spotted Guitarfish (Rhynchobatus djiddensis) is often found
resting on the seabed during the day, propped up on its pectoral fins
as it slowly pumps water over its gills. It can grow 3 m long and to a
weight of well over 200 kg. Despite its large size, this harmless animal
can be safely and closely approached by divers and snorkelers.
The White-spotted Guitarfish is common in the tropical north but sightings
have been made of large adults in southern waters, too. The young are
pale grey to yellow-brown in colour, with distinctive white spots along
the sides and back between each eye and the first dorsal fin. They also
have a large dark spot just above the pectoral fins which becomes indistinct
or disappears at maturity. Large adults become a darker grey or almost
black with fewer spots.
The less common Shark Ray or Bowmouth Guitarfish (Rhina ancylostoma),
which also lives in tropical waters, has a unique curved snout, a flattened
head rising to a high-arched back studded with blunt thorns and two tall
dorsal fins. Its colour varies from brown to grey, often with a beautiful
bluish hue, and light spots scattered over the body starting from behind
the head and covering all dorsal and tail surfaces.