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Shovelnose Guitar Fish

guitarfishShovelnose Guitarfish cruise the sandy flats of La Jolla’s Ecological Reserve

A long, pointed snout and a guitar-shaped body give the shovelnose guitar fish its unique name. Compressed from belly to back, guitar fish bodies are attuned to life on the sand.

The shovelnose guitar fish is actually a kind of ray. This species typically dwells from central California down to the Sea of Cortez. Guitar fish are generally considered harmless.

What Shovelnose Guitar Fish Look Like

Guitar fish body colors range from olive to sandy brown on their upper body and white on their underside. This helps shovelnose guitar fish blend into their sandy seafloor habitat.

Where Shovelnose Guitar Fish 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 guitar fish can often be seen meandering along the sandy flats of the La Jolla Ecological Reseve.

The shovelnose guitar fish are sometimes referred to as “skates” because they skate around the shallow sandy flats.

What Shovelnose Guitar Fish Eat

The shovelnose guitar fish has a mouth located on the bottom of its body, which is well-placed for eating bottom-dwelling prey. Shovelnose guitar fish “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 guitar fish 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. Guitar fish 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 guitar fish 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 and enjoying all the marine life in La Jolla from atop our ocean kayaks. Kayakers of all ages and skill levels are welcome at San Diego Bike and Kayak!

To join a kayak tour or rent a kayak to paddle around on your own, call (858) 454-1010 or save money by booking online. Special pricing for advance reservations!