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Guitarfish Going Under

You may never have heard about the guitarfish, and you certainly have never heard one. The guitarfish is named for its guitar-like shape, not for any music that it makes. (If you’re searching for guitarfish music, look elsewhere.)

Rhinobatos rhinobatos sketch

Unless significant reform of our relationship with the oceans, and the environment in general, is undertaken, the chance for you ever to see a guitarfish firsthand may never come. The International Conservation Union reports that in the northern Atlantic, about one of every four elasmobranchs – sharks, skates, rays and the like – is in danger of going extinct. In its report on the problem, two species of guitarfish are listed as endangered: The blackchin guitarfish (Rhinobatos cemiculus) common guitarfish (Rhinobatos rhinobatos). These fish are caught both as bycatch by shrimp trawlers and in their own right for the shark fin trade. A fin of the blackchin guitarfish can fetch 100 euros.

For the guitarfish curious, there is a rare sighting of them – on land. The North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher has announced the birth of six baby guitarfish. These are Atlantic guitarfish, which are not listed as endangered.

2 thoughts on “Guitarfish Going Under”

  1. tom says:

    i agree. However, and this is not meant as criticism, if we don’t change many aspects of the way we live “off” the planet (rather than WITH the planet) we’re doomed as a species of going on 8 billion people. We’re wasteful, overpopulating the globe, still using an inordinate amount of valuable resources killing each other when we need this energy and organization to deliver necessary supplies for existance, basic food and water to those of us on the planet who for reasons of geography, climate change and catastrophic issues (tsunamis and Katrinas for example).

    We have to go to PLANETARY mode, as Einstein wrote to FDR about years ago, and get off of the greed train AS A SPECIES. We should be caring about each other (as all the religions explain but don’t follow through on) instead of trying to eliminate our diversity. We have to individually realise this and act from that basis to end all the strife. This doesn’t necessarily mean the end of our social contract, only a necessary refinement. We’ll need at least a generation to “grow” this type of thinking all over the world. It’ll require a new direction for the military sector – one of mass mobilization on a large scale with equipment, manpower and logistics to handle environmental concerns – like support to damaged areas and providing for survival via evacuation, supply chain creation and maintenance, etc.
    We can’t keep going the way we have been, with the consumption paradigm, and not run in to the convergence of natural resources vs population. We’ll still need all the services we have now (in fact we’ll need new ones too), but they all – we all – need to be redirected.

    Obviously this won’t be easy. i’m skeptical that we can even do it in time (with our history and all) to avert what’s coming. For example, the people of the Maldives islands are saving up to buy a new home somewhere because their land is sinking under a rising ocean.

    Unless you want to go the other route, all out war for survival, “winner take all” thinking (that got us in to this predicament), i don’t see any other way. This would lead to a mass de-population of the globe, kind of a harsh way to “learn the lesson” should there be any survivors.

  2. Francois says:

    A guitarfish is now featured in the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach, California.

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