Sunday, December 04, 2011

Guitarfishes in Fiji!

Fiji Guitarfish - probably undescribed, possibly endemic!

Who would have thought!
Several people have responded to Clinton's appeal and it now appears that Fiji is harboring at least two species of Guitarfish!

So there.
The following with big caveats as the taxonomy of the group is challenging to say the least.

The comparatively easy one first.
Juerg has thankfully kept complete records of a specimen that washed up here in Pac Harbour, and it now looks like it may be the rather ubiquitous Rhynchobatus laevis, or Smoothnose Wedgefish.
Here's one from Cook Island in Queensland - maybe :)

And then, there's Randy's astonishing crop.
The man is active literally everywhere as witnessed by his ridiculously epic, and undoubtedly shortened publication list!
Anyway, Randy has somehow found the spare time to amass an extensive (this being a colossal understatement!) collection of images of Fishes from Fiji's fish markets and fishermen - and lo-and-behold, he has come up with pictures of two specimens caught in Waiqanake right outside of Suva, one of which is the Ray on top.

Clinton's completely unexpected, albeit highly preliminary verdict?
These may well be of a hitherto undescribed, and possibly even endemic species, the good news being that whilst one was duly consumed, the other one is thankfully residing in the USP freezer and thus available for DNA testing!
How totally spectacular is that!

So please, should you have any pics or other reliable records of any Guitarfish in Fiji, let us know - the more we can find out about habitat and distribution the better!

And people say that Taxonomy is boring!


Unknown said...

Hi just stumbled across your site when doing a bit googling about the guitarfish. I just returned to Australia after diving in Fiji and can confirm that I saw one of these just near the reef close to the Hideaway Resort, near Sigatoka. Appeared to be about 3m in length, and we were lucky enough to get it on video. Unfortunately the GoPro made it look a lot smaller and further away than it actually was. All my research suggests that it is not generally known to exist around Fiji!

DaShark said...

Thanks Ryan.

That's a rather old post, and the Fijian wedgefish has since been shown to be R. australiae. They are still locally abundant but unfortunately, they are being targeted for the fin trade.