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Species: Zapteryx xyster, Witch guitarfish

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snout pointed
2 yellow ocelli

Zapteryx xyster Jordan & Evermann, 1896

Witch guitarfish

Body slender; head and adjoining pectoral fins forming a distinctly broad triangular structure; head relatively broad, snout short, relatively pointed, with two ridges running forwards from inner edges of eyes; a large spiracle behind each eye; a row of thorny projections along dorsal midline from behind eyes to origin of first dorsal fin; two large, triangular, equal-sized dorsal fins; tail fin asymetrical without distinct lower lobe.

Red-brown, heavily mottled with blackish blotches that tend to form cross bars; two pairs of yellow ocellated spots, one at mid-body, the other at the rear of the pectorals; belly uniform pale.

Size: reaches 91 cm.

Habitat: benthic on soft bottoms, sometimes adjacent to rocky reefs; common in bays.

Depth: 0-25 m.

SE Gulf of California to Peru.

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  • Marine Only
  • Marine
  • Inshore
  • Inshore Only
Water Column Position
  • Bottom
  • Bottom only
  • Reef and soft bottom
  • Reef (rock/coral/oyster)
  • Soft bottom (mud/sand/gravel/beach/estuary/mangrove/seagrass)
  • Reef associated (reef + edges-water column & soft bottom)
  • Sand & gravel
  • Rocks
FishBase Habitat
  • Reef Associated
Feeding Group
  • Carnivore
  • No Data
  • Mobile benthic crustacea (shrimps/crabs)
  • Mobile benthic worms
  • Octopus/squid/cuttlefish
  • Mobile benthic gastropods/bivalves
  • No Data
Egg Type
  • No pelagic phase
  • Live birth
  • No pelagic larva
  • No data
Global Endemism
  • All species
  • Tropical Eastern Pacific (TEP) endemic
  • East Pacific endemic
Regional Endemism
  • TEP endemic
  • Continent
  • 3 provinces (Cortez + Mexican + Panamic) endemic
  • Continent only
  • Continental TEP endemic
  • All species
  • Resident
Climate Zone
  • Northern Tropical (Mexican Province to Nicaragua + Revillagigedos)
  • South Temperate (Peruvian Province )
  • Equatorial (Costa Rica to Ecuador + Galapagos, Clipperton, Cocos, Malpelo)
IUCN Red List
  • Listed
  • Data deficient
  • Not listed
Depth Range Max
  • 25
Depth Range Min
  • 0
Length Max
  • 91