Atlantic Guitarfish (Rhinobatos lentiginosus)

Atlantic Guitarfish (Rhinobatos lentiginosus)

A cross between a skate and a shark in appearance, the Atlantic guitarfish is a member of the Rajiformes family, along with the skate and the ray. It is occasionally encountered by anglers but is not a targeted species.

Identification

The head and the pectoral fins of the Atlantic guitarfish form a triangular disk at the front of the body. The rear of the body is thick and tapered like a shark’s, and it has two large dorsal fins and a well-developed caudal fin. The Atlantic guitarfish varies in color from gray to brown, with several pale spots on its body.

Size

This species is normally 1 to 2 feet long and can attain a maximum length of 2.5 feet. Females are somewhat larger than males.


Life history

Atlantic guitarfish are ovoviviparous, which means they bear live young, with up to six in a litter. At birth they are 20 centimeters long.

Food

Small mollusks and crustaceans form the diet of the guitarfish.

Other Names

French: poisson-guitarre tacheté; Italian: pesce violino; Spanish: guitarra.

Distribution

Atlantic guitarfish extend from North Carolina to the Gulf of Mexico, although they are not reported in the Bahamas or the Caribbean and are uncommon in Florida and the Yucatán. The Brazilian guitarfish (R. horkeli) and the southern guitarfish (R. percellens) are two closely related species that range from the West Indies to Brazil.

Habitat

Inhabiting sandy and weedy bottoms, Atlantic guitarfish are found near small reefs, usually buried in seagrass, sand, or mud at depths of 1 to 45 feet.
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