Bowmouth Guitarfish Facts
- The distinctive term of Bowmouth Guitarfish perfectly serves as one of the common names for a remarkable variety of ray. Its other accepted commonly accepted names include such terms as that of the mud skate and the shark ray.
- Its official scientific name, meanwhile, remains that of the hard to pronounce Rhina ancylostoma. By either of these various terms, though, the wonder of Nature remains a most distinctive, and sadly, rarely encountered, species of fish.
- The first official scientific recognition of the animal as a separate and distinct species occurred in the year 1801. This occurred as a result of the combined efforts of German naturalists Johann Gottlob Schneider and Marcus Elieser Bloch.
- Quite unfortunately, the population numbers of the amazing Bowmouth Guitarfish have plunged due to commercial fishing. As a result, the IUCN now lists the imperiled fish as Critically Endangered on its Red List of Threatened Species.
- Sadly, these do not form the only threats to its continued existence, however. Habitat loss also now poses an increasing danger, again due to the actions of man. But its greatest threat no doubt comes in the form of the ongoing effects of climate change.
Bowmouth Guitarfish Physical Description
Although certainly not the largest of the rays, the Bowmouth Guitarfish nonetheless attains a respectable size. Like many of its related species, this fascinating creature also displays a moderate degree of the physiological characteristic of sexual dimorphism.
In its specific case, this trait manifests itself in terms of pure physical size. Due to this trait, the females of the species reach a larger size than that of their male counterparts. The overall difference, however, remains quite modest, and not always immediately apparent.
Overall, mature females attain an average length of about 8.9 ft (2.7 m), with males remaining only slightly shorter. These same females also typically weigh about 298 lb (135 kg). Otherwise, mature adults of both genders remain virtually indistinguishable.
Its overall body shape combines the features of both sharks and rays, making for a striking appearance. It has relatively large pectoral fins, much like most sharks. The animal also, however, has a body that tapers toward the back, just as that of a shark does.
The amazing Bowmouth Guitarfish also displays a fascinating color pattern. The upperside has a bluish-gray to brownish background, with many small white spots being present. It further boasts black spots on the head and shoulders, and is white underneath.
- Kingdom: Animalia
- Phylum: Chordata
- Class: Chondrichthyes
- Order: Rajifromes
- Family: Rhinidae
- Genus: Rhina
- Species: R. ancylostoma
Bowmouth Guitarfish Distribution, Habitat, and Ecology
The fascinating Bowmouth Guitarfish presently inhabits a moderately large section of the oceans of the world. That zone of habitation consists of the western portion of the Indo-Pacific Ocean. Within that area, its population appears to be evenly distributed.
Somewhat surprisingly, it doesn’t actually live in most of that region, since this species prefers to inhabit the extremely shallow depths. These areas typically consist of those areas directly off the coastline of the various continents and any islands in the overall region.
Within that range, it spends its life in the shallower coastal waters, usually in or around areas of coral reefs and mangroves. As a result, it appears at only minor depths. In point of fact, specimens rarely appear at depths in excess of 300 ft (90 m), and usually much less.
As with all its many relatives, the Bowmouth Guitarfish evolved as a carnivorous predator. Given that and its habitat, its prey principally consists of various small crustaceans and mollusks. Some do, however, also consume small quantities of bony fish.
The majority of its activity, such as feeding, takes place at night, since it further evolved as a primarily nocturnal animal. Although its own predators appear to understandably be few, larger tiger sharks have been known to hunt it on occasion.