About the Species
The common guitarfish is a cartilaginous fish, similar to a ray or skate. The species once occurred in shallow waters throughout the Mediterranean Sea and eastern Atlantic Ocean, from France to Angola. It no longer occurs in many areas of the Mediterranean, and it is rare in West Africa. The main threats to the common guitarfish are commercial fishing to supply the shark fin trade and subsistence fishing to supply meat to growing coastal populations. In 2017, NOAA Fisheries listed the species as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. The blackchin and Brazilian guitarfish are also listed under the Endangered Species Act. Read more about the common guitarfish.
ESA Threatened - Foreign
- Throughout Its Range
The common guitarfish is brown on top and white underneath.
Behavior and Diet
The common guitarfish eats fish and invertebrates, such as mollusks and crustaceans.
Where They Live
The common guitarfish lives in shallow, sandy and muddy bottom habitats. It occurs in the Atlantic Ocean, from southern France to Angola. In the Mediterranean Sea, it occurs primarily along the southern and eastern coasts, in the waters of Tunisia, Turkey, Israel, Egypt, Lebanon, Syria, and Libya. The species is no longer found in the northern Mediterranean.
Lifespan & Reproduction
Female common guitarfish give birth to live young in shallow waters during August and November.
The common guitarfish is targeted for its fins to meet the high demand for shark fins in eastern and southeastern Asia. It is also targeted for its meat by coastal populations in several countries.
In 2013, NOAA Fisheries received a petition (pdf, 538 pages) to list the common guitarfish as threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act. In our 90-day finding, we concluded that the petitioned action may be warranted. After completing a Status Review, we proposed to list the species as threatened and requested comments from the public. In 2017, NOAA Fisheries listed the common guitarfish as threatened under the Endangered Species Act.
Key Actions & Documents
- Final rule to list common and blackchin guitarfishes under the ESA
- Proposed rule to list common and blackchin guitarfishes under the ESA
- 90-day finding on 25 fish species