Rhynchobatus laevis

Description: 

The Smoothnose Wedgefish (Rhynchobatus laevis) is a bottom-dwelling shark inhabiting shallow coastal areas, including bays and river mouths. It is found in the Indo-West Pacific, from Oman to Japan, primarily in the Indian Ocean. This large benthopelagic shark-like batoid occupies depths down to 60 m and may grow to at least 147 cm and possibly to 200 cm. It feeds mostly on benthic invertebrates and reproduces by lecithotrophic viviparity. Based on its similarity in size and growth rates to the Giant Shovelnose Ray (Glaucostegus typus), its generation span was inferred at 7 years. Due to its physical similarity and overlapping distribution with other wedgefish, it is often confused with Rhynchobatus djiddensis throughout its range, and with R. australiae in Australian waters. However, very little is known about both the Smoothnose Wedgefish and its “look-alike” rhynchobatid species, and further research into the species taxonomy, population and range, biology and ecology is needed.

The rhynchobatids, including the Smoothnose Wedgefish, are among the most threatened families of chondrichthyans due to their restricted coastal habitat, slow life history traits, susceptibility to capture in various gear types, and always-increasing demand. The biggest threat for the Smoothnose Wedgefish is fishing as the species is taken by a number of artisanal and commercial fisheries throughout its range both as a target and as bycatch. It is distributed in the areas of high fishing intensity and it is susceptible to multiple gear types, such as gill nets, trawl nets and hooks. Furthermore, due to the large size, together with its sympatric species (R. djiddensis and R. australiae) it is a target of illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing activities (IUU), amongst which finning is widespread. Moreover, due to its coastal shallow habitat, the Smoothnose Wedgefish is likely susceptible to habitat modifications from coastal development to pollution to climate change impacts.

Due to severe, continued declines in their populations around the world, Rhynchobatus laevis is listed by the IUCN on its Red List of Threatened Species as Vulnerable to extinction globally. In 2018, together with its "look-alike” species (R. djiddensis and R. australiae), it is listed on the CMS global Memorandum of Understanding on the Conservation of Migratory Sharks Sharks MOU Annex 1.

Assessment information
CMS InstrumentsSharks (2018)
IUCN StatusVulnerable
Geographic range
Countries Bangladesh, China, India, Iran, Japan, Oman, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Sri Lanka, United Arab Emirates

No pictures for Rhynchobatus laevis

Common names
EnglishSmoothnose Wedgefish
Taxonomy
ClassChondrichthyes
OrderRhinopristiformes
FamilyRhinidae
Scientific name Rhynchobatus laevis
AuthorBloch & Schneider 1801
SynonymsRhinobatus laevis

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