'Be-Flat' Bay Star: Aquarium of the Bay Welcomes New Shovelnose Guitarfish

Nov 22, 2010, 13:10 ET from Aquarium of the Bay

SAN FRANCISCO, Nov. 22, 2010 /PRNewswire/ -- While it will not generate the next chart-topping rock n' roll hit, Aquarium of the Bay is pleased to welcome its latest addition to a band of more than 20,000 aquatic animals, a Shovelnose Guitarfish, Rhinobatos productus.  

"This unusual ray has been around for about 100 million years," says Christina J. Slager, director of husbandry at Aquarium of the Bay, "but this is probably the first opportunity for most of our visitors to see this amazing fish."

The head of a Shovelnose Guitarfish resembles that of a ray or skate, with its long, pointed snout and a spade-shaped disc that is longer than it is wide.  Its head leads to a long tail, with two shark-like dorsal fins.  An ambush predator, it could be said that Shovelnose Guitarfish are masters at the cord of "be-flat," using their sand coloring as camouflage and burying into the sand, waiting for prey to cross its path.  Its shovel-like rostrum is also used to dig into the sand for worms, clams and shellfish.  

The Shovelnose Guitarfish is estimated to have swum in waters ranging from San Francisco Bay to the Gulf of California for more than 100 million years. Females are particularly abundant in the Bay during spring months, when they outnumber males 53:1.  The shallow waters and sandy bottoms of the Bay provide an ideal nursery ground for the animals. Following birth-giving, males join females in greater numbers for their own summer of love — or at least mating.

Threats to the animal's vitality include commercial fishing in Baja and the Gulf of California, and being collected accidentally as bycatch by shrimp and other fishermen, due to its penchant for bottom-dwelling.  Other threats include pollution and dredging in the animal's nursery grounds.

About Aquarium of the Bay

Aquarium of the Bay is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit marine nature center affiliated with The Bay Institute.  The Aquarium is dedicated to creating experiences that inspire conservation of San Francisco Bay and its watershed. It is accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), and certified as Green Business by the city of San Francisco. Additional information on Aquarium of the Bay is available at www.aquariumofthebay.org, and on The Bay Institute at www.bay.org.

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Christina Slager


SOURCE Aquarium of the Bay