Size at sexual maturity, reproductive cycle, and fecundity of the guitarfish, Rhinobatos hynnicephalus, were examined in Ariake Bay, Japan. Females reached sexual maturity at a larger size than males [total length (TL) at 50% sexual maturity: males, 431 mm; females, 476 mm]. Monthly gonadosomatic indices of males decreased abruptly from July to August. Histological examinations confirmed the presence of mature spermatozoa in the testes in July, with semen in seminal vesicles in July and August. Preovulatory ova were observed in females with near-term embryos in August. Parturition occurred in August, immediately followed by mating, ovulation, and fertilization. Gestation period is approximately 1 year. Fertilized uterine eggs without embryonic development were present throughout the annual reproductive cycle. Embryonic development began in June and ended in August, indicating that R. hynnicephalus undergoes embryonic diapause (9 months). Fecundity increased with TL and ranged from 1 to 9 (mean, 4.4) embryos per litter.
Rhinobatos hynnicephalusSexual maturity Reproductive cycle Embryonic diapause Fecundity Ariake Bay
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We sincerely thank Seinosuke Yoshida and the commercial fishermen of the Shimabara Fisheries Cooperative Association. We also thank two anonymous referees for their critical comments. This study was financially supported by the Japan Science and Technology (JST) Corporation.
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