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WHAT IS ELASMODIVER?

Not just a huge collection of Shark Pictures: Elasmodiver.com contains images of sharks, skates, rays, and a few chimaera's from around the world. Elasmodiver began as a simple web based shark field guide to help divers find the best places to encounter the different species of sharks and rays that live in shallow water but it has slowly evolved into a much larger project containing information on all aspects of shark diving and shark photography.

There are now more than 10,000 shark pictures  and sections on shark evolution, biology, and conservation. There is a large library of reviewed shark books, a constantly updated shark taxonomy page, a monster list of shark links, and deeper in the site there are numerous articles and stories about shark encounters. Elasmodiver is now so difficult to check for updates, that new information and pictures are listed on an Elasmodiver Updates Page that can be accessed here:

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Shark picture - green sawfish

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ATLANTIC GUITARFISH

Atlantic Guitarfish

 

Atlantic Guitarfish

View all available Atlantic Guitarfish Pictures

Common English Names:

Atlantic Guitarfish, wedgefish, Atlantic shovelnose ray, white spotted guitarfish

Latin Name: Rhinobatos lentiginosus

Family: Rhinobatidae

Identification: Body disc heart shaped. disc length slightly greater than width. Snout pointed with rounded tip. Body tapers into broad tail topped by two well developed dorsal fins of roughly equal size. Caudal fin triangular with indistinct lower lobe. Dorsum color variable. pale or sandy brown to chocolate brown. Sometimes olive or grey. Usually with many small white spots which are sometimes densely grouped giving the appearance of a white overall color with brown spots and blotches. Spots sometimes indistinct. Bold orange-yellow coloration usually visible in front of eyes and on tip of snout. Rostral cartilage between orange areas appears to be pinkish or devoid of color. Cartilage thickens towards tip of snout. Ventrum pale.

Size: Maximum length 75cm but more commonly 60cm. 13cm at birth.

Habitat: Intertidal Inshore waters to 30m. On sandy bottoms and sea grass beds. Often adjacent to reefs. Also along shorelines.

Abundance and distribution: Restricted to the Western Atlantic from North Carolina to the Yucantan Peninsula in Mexico. Also reported from Nicaragua. Common in the northern Gulf of Mexico.

Behavior: Lays on or partially buried in sand when not foraging for food.

Reproduction: Guitarfishes are ovoviviparous (yolk sac viviparity). The female's uterus is lined with tiny club shaped villi that provide nutrients for the young as they develop. Litters number up to 6 in Atlantic Guitarfish.

IUCN Red List Status: The Freckled Guitarfish (Rhinobatos lentiginosus) has a wide distribution in the southeast USA and coastal regions of the Gulf of Mexico, from North Carolina to Yucatán, Mexico and also Nicaragua. A shallow coastal species from inshore to 30 m on sandy and weedy bottom types. In some regions, for example Texas, it appears to be only seasonally and locally common. Little biological information is available for the Freckled Guitarfish. It reaches 76 cm TL and has a low fecundity (mean of 6.6 young/litter in the USA). Its narrow inshore habitat is susceptible to human impacts. It is taken as bycatch in bottom shrimp trawls in the Gulf of Mexico and occasionally by recreational fishers. Shrimp trawl fishing is intense in the Gulf of Mexico, particularly in shallow waters where this species occurs, with four to five million trawl hours annually. Although data from trawl surveys on the eastern coast of the USA (1989–2005) showed no trend in the population of this species, trawl and longline surveys in the northern Gulf of Mexico (1972–2002) recorded it in only very low numbers, with the last record in 1994. Rhinobatids are known to be vulnerable to population depletion as a result of their limiting life-history characteristics and serious declines have been documented where they are heavily fished. Given that demersal fishing pressure is very intensive throughout the southern part of this species range and its limiting life-history characteristics, it is given a precautionary assessment of Near Threatened on the basis of inferred declines as a result of continuing high levels of exploitation (close to meeting the criteria for VUA2d+4d). Collection of further data from throughout this species range is a priority.

Ref: Casper, B.M., Burgess, G.H. & Shepherd, T. 2004. Rhinobatos lentiginosus. In: IUCN 2009. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2009.2.

 

Photographs: Panama City beach pier. Panama City, Florida, USA.

Similar species: The Atlantic guitarfish is the only guitarfish appearing within its range.

Reaction to divers: Generally easy to approach with careful slow movements especially if encountered while free diving. Moves away or bolts upon very close examination.

Diving logistics: Atlantic guitarfishes are common visitors to fishing piers around Panama City in the late spring and summer months. Spring is the best time to dive or snorkel with them because during the summer most piers are closed to in water activities to avoid disturbing fishermen.

Dive centers in Pensacola, FL. have reported numerous sightings of guitarfish adjacent to the artificial reefs created by dropping bridge spans off the coast.

Other diving locations submitted by readers:

Further reading:

Fishbase.org

Reef Sharks and Rays of the World. Scott W. Michael. Sea Challengers.

Sharks and Rays - Elasmobranch Guide of the World. Ralf M. Hennemann. IKAN.

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