The common guitarfish occurs from the north of Spain throughout the Mediterranean coast, towards the south on the west coast of the Atlantic down to Guinea Bissau and possibly Namibia. Despite this wide range, their populations have declined over the past decades.
Although the common guitarfish has a wide distribution, it is subjected to intense fishing pressure throughout its range. Its coastal habitat makes it an easy target for artisanal fisheries and it is also likely to be caught as bycatch by commercial fisheries operating along the Mediterranean coast. Furthermore, it is likely that habitat degradation to coastal nursery grounds is having a negative effect on juveniles.
This species reproduces through aplacental viviparity, meaning embryos develop inside eggs, which are retained within the mothers’ body until they are ready to hatch. There is no placental connection and unborn young are nourished by egg yolk, they have up to two litters a year and pups reach 25 cm in length, born between May and September. Their size appears to vary along their distribution range, with individuals from the Mediterranean achieving greater lengths.
Currently, no species-specific conservation actions are in place for the common guitarfish. According to the IUCN, creating a management plan is essential including the implementation of a fishing seasonal ban in order to promote the population growth of this endangered ray species.
- Order: Rajiformes
- Family: Rhinobatidae
- Population: Unknown
- Trend: decreasing
- Size: Up to 147cm (?)
- Depth Range (m): 5-80m
The common guitarfish is found in the Eastern Atlantic from the southern Bay of Biscay to Angola and the Mediterranean Sea.
Habitat and Ecology
The common guitarfish is a bottom dwelling species that lives on sandy, muddy, shell and sometimes macroalgal covered bottoms, partially burying itself in the substrate. It feeds on benthic invertebrates and fish, but its diet is dominated by crustaceans. It may be migratory with individuals moving northwards in the winter and spring months. Females aggregate for parturition in shallow waters, increasing their vulnerability to artisanal fisheries and the impacts of fishing in the population viability.