The Bowmouth Guitarfish (Rhina ancylostoma) is a large, rare fish in the Rhinidae family of rays. It is also called the Shark Ray, Mud Skate, or Shortnose Mud Skate. It was difficult for scientists to classify, but now it is classified as a ray.
The Bowmouth Guitarfish has a distinctive appearance, with its back half that looks like a shark and its front half that looks like a ray. It is sandy brown or bluish-grey with white spots. Its underbelly is light-grey or white. It has prominent black markings on its pectoral fins. It has a wide, thick body with a rounded, wide snout (nose) and large shark-like, sickle-shaped dorsal (back) and crescent-shaped tail fins. Its mouth forms a W-shaped undulating line. There are multiple thorny ridges on its head and back.
It has medium-sized eyes and long nostrils. There are around 47 upper tooth rows and 50 lower tooth rows with small, blunt teeth. It has five pairs of gill slits on its body, near its head.
It grows to 270 centimetres (106 inches) in length. The female is larger than the male.
It is found in tropical coastal waters of the western Indo-Pacific Ocean, from South Africa to Western Australia. It prefers to live on the ocean floor – therefore, it is benthic.
The Bowmouth Guitarfish eats bony fish, crabs, lobsters, and molluscs. Tiger sharks like to eat the Bowmouth Guitarfish.
It is viviparous. The female has eggs inside her body and gives birth to 2-7 live young, called pups.Young rays are more vividly coloured than adults.
Location of photographs: Sea Life London Aquarium, England
Photographer: Martina Nicolls
Martina Nicolls: SIMILAR BUT DIFFERENT IN THE ANIMAL KINGDOM