Found on sand or mud bottoms of bays, seagrass beds, estuaries, and near rocky reefs.
Coloration is brown-olive with a sandy-colored abdomen
Body is guitar-shaped
Snout is long, flat, and pointed, resembling a shovel
Body is compressed from belly to back
With a long, flat, and pointed head that resembles a shovel and body shape similar to that of a guitar, it is no surprise where the shovelnose guitarfish gets its name. This skate has adapted to pump water over their gills, allowing them to remain stationary to prey upon benthic clams, crabs, and small fish. Even their pebble-like teeth are designed to help them crack the shells of their prey.
The shovelnose guitarfish was originally thought to be a type of shark, due to their body shape and the fact that they use their long tail to move through the water. It has since been determined though that they and other guitarfish are more closely related to skates and rays. Unlike rays though, skates like this guitarfish do not have any spines along their tails.
The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has listed the shovelnose guitarfish population as Near Threatened due to ongoing fisheries with limited data in Mexico, recreational fishing derbies in the U.S., and a suspected population decrease of nearly 30% in the past three generations. Near threatened populations are those that are considered to be at high-risk of extinction in the near future.
35 to 40 inches (90 to 100 centimeters)
Crabs, worms, clams, and small fish
Eastern Pacific Ocean from central California south to the Gulf of California