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.
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.
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.
Atlantic guitarﬁsh are ovoviviparous, which means they bear live young, with up to six in a litter. At birth they are 20 centimeters long.
Small mollusks and crustaceans form the diet of the guitarﬁsh.
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.
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.