Shovelnose Guitarfish cruise the sandy flats of La Jolla’s Ecological Reserve!
A long, pointed snout and a guitar-shaped body give the shovelnose guitarfish its unique name. Compressed from belly to back, guitar fish bodies are attuned to life on the sand.
The shovelnose guitarfish is actually a kind of ray. This species typically dwells from central California down to the Sea of Cortez. Guitarfish are generally considered harmless.
What Shovelnose Guitarfish Look Like
Guitarfish body colors range from olive to sandy brown on their upper body and white on their underside. This helps shovelnose guitarfish blend into their sandy seafloor habitat.
Where Shovelnose Guitarfish Live
They live on sandy seafloors in bays, seagrass beds and estuaries, and usually in less than 40 feet of water. In La Jolla, shovelnose guitarfish can often be seen meandering along the sandy flats of the La Jolla Ecological Reseve.
The shovelnose guitarfish are sometimes referred to as “skates” because they skate around the shallow sandy flats.
What Shovelnose Guitarfish Eat
The shovelnose guitarfish has a mouth located on the bottom of its body, which is well-placed for eating bottom-dwelling prey. Shovelnose guitarfish “breath” by pumping water in through holes (spiracles) on top of their heads, over the gills and out through gill openings on the bottom of their disc.
Shovelnose guitarfish lie in the sand, ready to ambush their small prey, with only their eyes sticking out, since their bodies are the same color as the sandy ocean floor. Guitarfish will erupt out of the sand to gulp down a crab, worm or clam that crosses its path. At night, they leave the sand to actively cruise the seafloor to feed on crabs, worms, clams and even small fish.
How To See the Shovelnose Guitarfish
Shovelnose guitar fish are harmless to humans. The best way to spot them is to snorkel over them, because they blend in with sand due to their light colored bodies. To get a little closer to these Shovelnose guitarfish and other La Jolla marine life, try our Kayak and Snorkel Tour!
Don’t want to get into the water? Witness these amazing Shovelnose guitarfish by kayaking above them, on our Kayak Tour of the 7 Caves, and observe all the marine life in La Jolla from above the water. Kayakers of all ages and skill levels are welcome at San Diego Bike and Kayak!