I'm going to be honest here: this has been the most frustrating bio I have come to write so far... and that's saying a lot since I have some bio's that basically say, "We know what it looks like and where we caught it. That's it, good night." The reason this particular bio was so frustrating is not that I'm up at 11:30pm writing it, but because Rhynchobatus djiddensis is actually FOUR SPECIES. Cue frustrated scream here.
You may be confused. Welcome to the club. Let me give you an example: in the past, the whitespotted wedgefish (Rhynchobatus australiae) has been referred to as Rhynchobatus djiddensis. Mind boggling, really!
But enough about them and how frustrating taxonomy can sometimes be-- let's chat about this rather large (they can get up to 310 cm in length) Western Indian Ocean animal. An inshore guitarfish (preferring a depth of 35- 70 m) , they are observed from the Red Sea to South Africa. Off KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa you can spot these critters enjoying the sandy beaches during summer just like everyone else-- and they seem to love the surf zone! When they're not catching waves like the surfboards they kind of look to be, they are hunting for their favourite prey: crabs, bivalve molluscs and small fish.
We still have many gaps in knowledge when it comes to these animals, such as life history characteristics (how long gestation takes, reproduction, how long they live for, etc.). This is a problem because they are caught in various fisheries (both intentionally and not) and this places them among some of the most vulnerable Chondrichthyans. In fact, the IUCN has even assessed them as Data Deficient (DD).
EVER HEARD OF THIS animal?
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TFUI Founder Melissa C. Marquez is author of all animal bios and "Behind the Fins" segments.
SEE MELISSA'S TEDx TALK HERE:
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