© The Blowfish

Look!! Over there! It’s a shark!! It’s a ray!!! NO! It’s a guitarfish!!

Confused? Don’t be. Today we’re looking at an awesome family of elasmobranchs that combine all the benefits of both shark and ray, into one hard rocking package.

Boys and girls, meet the guitarfish!

Now technically guitarfish are a type of ray but they have a lot of characteristics we know from sharks. Things like large dorsal and caudal (tail) fins. But, the front end is definitely ray-like, with a mouth underneath the body, spiracles for breathing and a wide flat body. In fact, a guitarfish really does look like someone stuck the back end of a shark onto the front end of a ray!

But don’t let this mix-up fool you into thinking that guitarfish don’t rock! They’re brilliant predators, found in shallow waters around coastlines, and even up into brackish estuaries.

With that ray-esque mouth, you’d be correct in thinking that they’re bottom feeders, and most species spend a good deal of time foraging in sand and mud for things like crabs, worms and snails. But some of the larger, strong swimming species like the Bowmouth Guitarfish are capable of chasing down and catching bottom-dwelling fishes.

The guitarfish don’t have it easy though.

Being coastal shark-like rays, they’re easily caught by fishing boats, and can have their habitat destroyed by pollution or human developments.

They even have to watch out for other sharks which might hunt them - but with this last one at least the Bowmouth Guitarfish can fight back. It has large thorny spines on its massive head that it can use to defend itself by head-butting potential attackers!!

Now that’s Rock and Roll!!