By : Ann Kunz
Giant Guitarfish or Sand Sharks have been given a new name. They are now known by the name whitespotted wedge-fish.
These whitespotted wedge-fish belong to the ancient lineage of cartilaginous fishes with a body shape that appears to be somewhere between that of sharks and rays. Their tails have a typical shark-like shape, but their heads are guitar-like in shape unlike the disc-shape found in rays.
They move gracefully through the water and are typically found in shallow sandy and muddy bottom habitats throughout the Western Indian Ocean, Red Sea and Persian Gulf. Whitespotted wedge-fish predate on fish and invertebrates, such as molluscs and crustaceans.
They give birth to an average of four live young between the months of December and January in northern KZN and southern Mozambique.
In 2019 they were reclassified as critically endangered on the IUCN Red List due to unregulated intense fishing pressure for both their meat and fins.
I imagine that they will continue to be known by the name guitarfish for many years to come and that their new name will take some time to become more popular.