Giant guitarfish were previously thought to be wide-spread, but research has shown that this is probably the combined distribution of four related species. Giant guitarfish are now thought to occur only in the Red Sea and western Indian Ocean as far south as South Africa’s east coast. They are bottom-dwelling and are found around sandy and muddy areas in estuaries, lagoons and near coral and rocky reefs, down to 50m.
These impressive slow-growing fish can reach 3m long and can weigh more than 220kg. They have pavement-like teeth that they use to crush mussels, crabs, squid and small fish. Around South Africa these fish give live (ovoviviparous) birth to litters of 4 to 10 pups during the summer. The fins of these fish are highly sought after for sharkfin soup.