, Volume 151, Issue 4, pp 1445-1454

Reproductive biology of shovelnose guitarfish Rhinobatos productus from the eastern Gulf of California México

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Abstract

Guitarfishes are a primary component of artisanal elasmobranch fisheries and are commonly taken as trawl fishery bycatch throughout the Gulf of California. However, little is known of the life history of this species. To address this lack of critical biological information, the reproductive biology of Rhinobatos productus was investigated in the eastern Gulf of California. Development of claspers and testes indicated that males reach maturity at 53 cm total length (TL). Measurements of oviducal gland, largest ovum diameter, and uterus width indicated that females >57 cm TL are mature. This species possesses two functional ovaries: the ovarian cycle and gestation run concurrently. Histological analysis of oviducal glands did not provide evidence of sperm storage, but females carrying uterine capsules were observed over an extended period, suggesting the possibility of diapause in the early embryonic development. Following 4–5 months of embryonic growth, pups were typically born from late June to October after a gestation period of approximately 11–12 months. Width of yolk sac was inversely related to embryo length. The rate of reduction of yolk sac width suggests that embryos depend on the sac until birth. Mean fecundity was estimated to be 5 (range 1–10, s.d. = 2.24) with a 1:1 sex ratio. Average size at birth was 175 mm TL. Seasonally, gravid females enter shallow waters for parturition, becoming extremely vulnerable to gill nets used in the artisanal ray fishery.

Communicated by P.W. Sammarco.