The giant guitarfish is ray with a distinct and very shark-like appearance. It can be recognized by its elongated and pointed snout, large eye spots above each pectoral fin, rows of white dots lining its greyish back, and tall, shark-like dorsal fins. This bottom-dwelling guitarfish can be in shallow inshore marine environments and estuaries throughout the western Indian Ocean, but is frequently confused with similar guitarfish species found in other parts of the Indo-Pacific. At high tide, the giant guitarfish swims onto reef flats, where it feeds on small fish, crustaceans, bivalves and squid.
  • Size

    10 feet (3.1 m) and 500 lbs. (227 kg)
  • Diet

    Crabs, lobsters, bivalves, small fish and squid
  • Range

    Western Indian Ocean from the Red Sea to South Africa
  • Habitat

    Inshore marine waters and shallow estuaries

Physical Characteristics

Size

  • Can reach 10 feet (3.1 m) in length and 500 lbs. (227 kg).
  • The largest female on exhibit is roughly 7.9 feet (240cm) in length.

Body Composition

  • There is a distinctive black cross between the eyes and rows of small white spots on the upper body. (These marks may be good identifiers in the ocean, but they are very difficult to see in Ocean Voyager).

Color

  • Giant guitarfish exhibits countershading, olive-green above and white below, with large black eyespots on the base of the pectoral fins.

 

Animal Fact

Guitarfish may look a lot like sharks, but they are actually members of the ray family. Sharks and rays are closely related and alike in many ways. One easy way to tell the difference is to check the location of the gill slits. If the gills are on the side of the body, you’re looking at a shark. If the gills are on the underside - it’s a ray!

Diet / Feeding

  • Feeds on crabs, lobsters, bivalves, small fish and squid.

 

Range / Habitat

Range

  • Giant guitarfish occurs in the tropical Western Indian Ocean from the Red Sea to South Africa.

Habitat

  • Found in inshore marine waters and shallow estuaries to depths of about 165 feet (50 m).

Reproduction & Growth

  • This species is ovoviviparous (fertilization of eggs occurs internally and the young develop within the female and are born fully formed).

Conservation Status

  •  “Vulnerable” on the IUCN Red List.

Additional Information

  • Giant guitarfish has a body that resembles that of a shark. However, it is a member of the ray family.
  • Female gives birth in summer to about four young, each typically about 1.4 to 2.0 feet (43 – 60 cm) long.
  • The fins of this guitarfish are sought after in Asian markets.

Sources

Buy Tickets