Shark Ray, Rhina ancylostomus Bloch & Schneider 1801

Other Names: Bowmouth Guitarfish, Bow-mouthed Angel Fish, Great Shark Ray, Java Sea Shark Ray, Mud Skate

A Shark Ray, Rhina ancylostoma, in the Georgia Aquarium, Atlanta, US. Source: Marj Awai / Fishbase. License: CC BY Attribution-NonCommercial


A robust greyish to brownish guitarfish with large thorns on bony ridges on the head and body, white spots covering the body, fins and tail, black spots on the head and shoulders, and a large blue-edged black blotch above each pectoral fin.  

The Shark Ray has a broad rounded snout, large, high pectoral fins, robust ridges of spiky thorns over the eyes and on the back and shoulders.

A Shark Ray (aka Bowmouth Guitarfish) recorded on stereo-BRUV in the Pilbara region of Western Australia.

Video of a Shark Ray

Cite this page as:
Bray, D.J. 2020, Rhina ancylostomus in Fishes of Australia, accessed 20 Apr 2024,

Shark Ray, Rhina ancylostomus Bloch & Schneider 1801

More Info


Fremantle, Western Australia, around the tropical north, to Sydney, New South Wales. Elsewhere, the species is widespread in coastal and continental shelf waters of the Indo-west Pacific, from South Africa to New Caledonia and north to Japan. 
Inhabits sandy and muddy areas in coastal and coral reef areas.


Snout broad, rounded snout; pectoral fins large, high; head and anterior body with heavy ridges of spiky thorns; jaws with undulating rows of heavily ridged, crushing teeth.


Feeds mostly on benthic crustaceans and molluscs.


Shark rays are ovoviparous (aplacental viviparity), with embryos initially feeding on yolk, then on with additional nourishment from the mother by indirect absorption of uterine fluid enriched with mucus, fat or protein through specialised structures. Females produce four pups per litter, born at 45 cm TL. 


Although not targeted in Australia, the Shark Ray is taken as bycatch in several demersal trawl fisheries. The catch is thought to have reduced due to the introduction of Turtle Exclusion Devices (TEDs) in some fisheries. Elsewhere, the species is taken in artisanal and commercial fisheries throughout its range. Both the flesh and fins are consumed.


The rows of large spines present above the eye, on the midline behind the head, and on the shoulder are used in defense.


The specific name ancylostomus is from the Greek ankulos (= hooked, crooked) and stoma (= mouth) in reference to the bow-shaped mouth of this species.

Species Citation

Rhina ancylostomus Bloch & Schneider, 1801, Systema Ichthyologiae: 352, pl. 72. Type locality: Coromandel, India.


Bray, D.J. 2020


Atlas of Living Australia

Shark Ray, Rhina ancylostomus Bloch & Schneider 1801


Allen, G.R. 1997. Marine Fishes of Tropical Australia and South-east Asia. Perth : Western Australian Museum 292 pp. 106 pls.

Allen, G.R. & Erdmann, M.V. 2012. Reef fishes of the East Indies. Perth : Tropical Reef Research 3 vols, 1260 pp.

Bloch, M.E. & Schneider, J.G. 1801. Systema Ichthyologiae Iconibus ex Illustratum. Berlin 584 pp. 110 pls. See ref at BHL

Brewer, D.T., Rawlinson, N., Eayrs, S. & Burrige. C. 1998. An assessment of bycatch reduction devices in a tropical Australian prawn trawl fishery. Fish Research 36: 195-215.

Compagno, L.J.V. & Last, P.R. 1999. Families Pristidae, Rhinidae, Rhinobatidae, Platyrhinidae. pp. 1410-1432 in Carpenter, K.E. & Niem, V.H. (eds). The Living Marine Resources of the Western Central Pacific. FAO Species Identification Guide for Fisheries Purposes. Rome : FAO Vol. 3 pp. 1397-2068.

Dulvy, N.K. & Reynolds, J.D. 1997. Evolutionary transitions among egg-laying, live-bearing and maternal inputs in sharks and rays. Proceedings of the Roal Society London, Series B: Biological Science 264: 1309-1315.

Gloerfelt-Tarp, T. & Kailola. P.J. 1984. Trawled Fishes of Southern Indonesia and Northwest Australia. Jakarta : Dir. Gen. Fish. (Indonesia), German Tech. Coop., Aust. Dev. Ass. Bur. 406 pp.

Gordon, I. 1992. A new record extending the southerly distribution of the shark ray (Rhina ancylostomus), and notes on the behaviour of the specimen in captivity. Australian Journal of Marine and Freshwater Research 43: 319-323.

Grant, E.M. 2002. Guide to Fishes. Redcliffe : EM Grant Pty Ltd 880 pp.

Hartoko, A., Pringgenies, D., Anggelina, A. C., & Matsuishi, T. 2020. Morphology and molecular biology of benthic Java Sea Shark Ray Rhina ancylostoma Bloch and Scheider 1801 (Elasmobranchia: Rhinidae). Annual Research & Review in Biology 35(4): 19-31.

Johnson, J.W. 2010. Fishes of the Moreton Bay Marine Park and adjacent continental shelf waters, Queensland, Australia. pp. 299-353 in Davie, P.J.F. & Phillips, J.A. Proceedings of the Thirteenth International Marine Biological Workshop, The Marine Fauna and Flora of Moreton Bay. Memoirs of the Queensland Museum 54(3)

Kyne, P.M., Rigby, C.L., Dharmadi & Jabado, R.W. 2019. Rhina ancylostoma. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2019: e.T41848A124421912. Downloaded on 20 June 2020.

Last, P.R., Séret, B. & Naylor, G.J.P. 2016. A new species of guitarfish, Rhinobatos borneensis sp. nov. with a redefinition of the family-level classification in the order Rhinopristiformes (Chondrichthyes: Batoidea). Zootaxa 4117(4): 451-475,

Last, P.R. & Stevens, J.D. 1994. Sharks and Rays of Australia. Canberra : CSIRO Australia 513 pp. 84 pls.

Last, P.R. & Stevens, J.D. 2009. Sharks and Rays of Australia. Collingwood : CSIRO Publishing Australia 2, 550 pp.

Last, P. R., White, W.T. & Séret, B. 2016. 9. Wedgefishes. Family Rhinidae. pp. 65-76 in Last, P.R., White, W.T., Carvalho, M.R. de, Séret, B., Stehmann, M.F.W. & Naylor, G.J.P. (eds). Rays of the World. Clayton South, Victoria : CSIRO Publishing 790 pp.

Macbeth, W.G., Vandenberg, M. & Graham, K.J. 2008. Identifying Sharks and Rays; a Guide for Commercial Fishers. Sydney : New South Wales Department of Primary Industry 71 pp.

Michael, S.W. 1993. Reef sharks and rays of the world. A guide to their identification, behavior, and ecology. Sea Challengers, Monterey, California. 107 pp.

Randall, J.E., Allen, G.R. & Steene, R. 1997. Fishes of the Great Barrier Reef and Coral Sea. Bathurst : Crawford House Press 557 pp. figs.

Rose, C. & McLoughlin, K. 2001. Review of Shark Finning in Australian Fisheries. Final Report to the Fisheries Resources Research Fund. Bureau of Rural Sciences, Canberra

Russell, B.C. & Houston, W. 1989. Offshore fishes of the Arafura Sea. The Beagle, Records of the Museums and Art Galleries of the Northern Territory 6(1): 69-84

Sainsbury, K.J., Kailola, P.J. & Leyland, G.G. 1985. Continental Shelf Fishes of Northern and North-Western Australia. Canberra : Fisheries Information Service 375 pp. figs & pls.

Stead, D.G. 1963. Sharks and Rays of Australian Seas. Sydney : Angus & Robertson 211 pp. 63 figs.

Stephenson, P. & Chidlow, J. 2003. By-catch in the Pilbara Trawl Fishery. Final report to Natural Heritage Trust, 74 pp.

Stobutzki, I.C., Miller, M.J., Heales, D.S. and Brewer, D.T. 2002. Sustainability of elasmobranches caught as bycatch in a tropical prawn (shrimp) trawl fishery. Fishery Bulletin 100: 800-821.

White, W.T., Last, P.R., Stevens, J.D.,  Yearsley, G.K., Fahmi & Dharmadi. 2006. Economically important sharks and rays of Indonesia. [Hiu dan pari yang bernilai ekonomis penting di Indonesia]. Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research, Canberra, Australia.

Whitley, G.P. 1940. The Fishes of Australia. Part 1. The sharks, rays, devil-fish, and other primitive fishes of Australia and New Zealand. Sydney : Roy. Zool. Soc. N.S.W. 280 pp. 303 figs.

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37026002

Conservation:IUCN Critically Endangered

Depth:1-90 m

Fishing:Fished commercially

Habitat:Reef associated, sandy/muddy areas

Max Size:270 cm TL

Species Image Gallery

Species Maps

CAAB distribution map