Defining Features[edit | edit source]

The Rhinopristiformes are commonly known as guitarfish, sawfish, tarfish, or shovelnose rays. They are shark-like rays, with a finned tail rather than the whip-like tail seen on other species of rays. They use this tail for locomotion, allowing for their pectoral fins to be small and diamond like while still fused to the head. Rhinopristiformes have at least one dorsal fin, 2 pointed triangular/winged shaped pectoral fins, a caudal fin, and some species have paired pelvic fins. They can be a variety of colors, the dorsal side being mostly tan/brown in color. Some species may possess contrasting spots or stripes on its dorsal side. The sawfish are distinct in that they have a long saw-like rostrum, with other species having a pointed rostrum.

Habitat and Range[edit | edit source]

Rhinopristiformes live in tropical to subtropical regions in shallow water. They like to live along shorelines in the Atlantic, Northern Indian, and Pacific Oceans, however, many of them are centralized to certain geographic areas due to their declining populations and tendency to not migrate long distances. Rhinopristiformes can also be found in intertidal regions, mangroves, and coastlines. Most Rhinopristiformes prefer to stay in water depths of intertidal to about 100m, however there are a few exceptions that have been recently discovered in deep water.

Fisheries Conservation and Concern[edit | edit source]

There are quite a few species of Rhinopristiformes that are listed as critically endangered and vulnerable on the IUCN Red List. These include multiple different species of guitarfish and sawfish. Many species are overfished and specifically targeted as prized food in the Eastern Hemisphere. Conservation efforts in the US and Caribbean are starting to work for the species in that region. However, worldwide conservation isn't being enforced due to the overwhelming demand for their pectoral fins in foreign markets.

Closest Relatives[edit | edit source]


Example Species in Rhinopristiformes[edit | edit source]

Giant Shovelnose Ray[edit | edit source]

Glaucostegus typus[edit | edit source]

Defining Features: The giant shovelnose ray can grow to 150-180 cm long. They have a grey-brown to olive body with opaque snout and pale to yellow margins on their fins. They have enlarged denticles and thorns and a broad, triangular snout.

Range & Habitat: The giant shovelnose ray is located in the Indo-Pacific west area. Specifically Thailand to New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, and Northern Australia. Their depth range is 0-100 m deep. Adults are usually located offshore while juveniles are more commonly found inshore around sand flats and atolls.

IUCN Concern: This species is critically endangered and is probably the most commercialized guitar fish in the Western Central Pacific.

Striped Panray[edit | edit source]

Zanobatus schoenleinii[edit | edit source]

Defining Features: Striped panray are on average size 40 cm and are a roundish shape. They are brownish with a darker striped/blotched pattern.

Range & Habitat: Little is known about the striped panray, but we do know that they live off the north western coast of Africa. They live in shallow coastal waters on sandy bottoms at depths < 100 m.

IUCN Concern: Currently, this species doesn't have enough data to determine their population trends.

References[edit | edit source]

Fish Base -

Chondrichthyan Tree of Life -

IUCN Redlist -

Florida Museum of Natural History -

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