Rhinobatos rhinobatos (Mediterranean Sea population)

Description: 

The Mediterranean Sea population of the Common Guitarfish (Rhinobatos rhinobatos) is a cartilaginous fish belonging to the elasmobranchs, Family Rhinobatidae and is endemic to the Mediterranean Sea and the eastern Atlantic Ocean. This species is distinguished by the presence of slightly enlarged pectoral fins with the anterior edge of the pectoral fin attached to the side of the head, wedge shaped disc, pointed triangular snout, and a dorsoventrally flattened body. Two upright dorsal fins are separated with the first located well behind the rear tips of the pelvic fin. Rostral ridges are widely spaced over their length and anterior nasal flaps moderately developed. The dorsal surface of the species ranges from greenish brown to reddish brown with faint bluish-grey longitudinal stripes and markings. Ventral surface is white.

Many species of Common Guitarfish exhibit a pattern of movement based on their reproductive cycle, as they aggregate seasonally, with females visiting relatively quiet shallow waters for parturition. This predictable migration pattern enables fishers to target adults during this critical phase of the species' life cycle. Moreover, occurring in shallow waters in the intertidal zone to waters of up to 180 metres in depth, the Common Guitarfish is a bottom-dwelling species that consumes a variety of macrobenthic organisms such as crustaceans, fishes, and molluscs. In addition, the species is aplacental viviparous, producing live young with embryonic nutrition coming from a yolk sac, with apparent supplementary nutrition during gestation from uterine secretions.

The global population was assessed by IUCN in 2007 and the Mediterranean Sea population was evaluated again in 2016; in both cases the species was classified as Endangered. The species is considered by IUCN as one of the most endangered fish species in the Mediterranean Sea. It has suffered severe declines and regional extirpation throughout its former range, mainly due to overfishing for locally consumed meat. Given the extreme population declines that the species has suffered, current population and migratory status is difficult to determine. However, it is clear that it would greatly benefit from better protection in the Mediterranean Sea, and from better regional and international co-operation to preserve the populations that remain in the Mediterranean Sea and in Western Africa. In 2017, the species was listed in both Appendix I and Appendix II of CMS.

Assessment information
CMS InstrumentsCMS
Date of entry in Appendix I2017
Date of entry in Appendix II2017

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Common names
EnglishCommon Guitarfish, Violinfish
FrenchGuitare de mer commune
SpanishGuitarra, Guitarra comùn, Guitarró
Taxonomy
ClassChondrichthyes
OrderRhinopristiformes
FamilyRhinobatidae
Scientific name Rhinobatos rhinobatos (Mediterranean Sea population)
Author(Linnaeus, 1758)