Smoothnose Wedgefish, Rhynchobatus laevis (Bloch & Schneider 1801)

Other Names: Giant Guitarfish, Sandshark, Shovelnose Shark

A Smoothnose Wedgefish, Rhynchobatus laevis, at Lady Elliot Island, Great Barrier Reef, Queensland. Source: David R / License: CC By Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives

A very large wedgefish found off river mouths and in coastal bays in Australia.

Cite this page as:

Dianne J. Bray, 2011, Smoothnose Wedgefish, Rhynchobatus laevis, in Fishes of Australia, accessed 28 May 2016,

Smoothnose Wedgefish, Rhynchobatus laevis (Bloch & Schneider 1801)

More Info


Recorded in Australia from Fremantle, Western Australia, around the north to Brunswick Heads, New South Wales. Inhabits coastal waters in shallow bays and off river mouths. Elsewhere, widespread in the Indo-west-central Pacific.


Feeds mostly on benthic invertebrates.


The species is aplacental viviparous (ovoviparous). 


Taken as by-catch in various demersal inshore fisheries throughout its range, and retained for its fins which fetch a high price. The flesh is also marketed in SE Asia. 

Due to their large and powerful fighting abilities, the species is also targeted by sports fishers.


The Smoothnose Wedgefish is threatened by overfishing and habitat destruction in many parts of its range.

The use of Turtle Exclusion Devices (TEDs) in some Australian trawl fisheries and various elasmobranch-finning prohibitions, has probably led to a reduction in captures - hence the Near Threatened classification in Australian waters (McAuley & Compagno 2003).

Similar Species

Confused with Rhynchobatus djiddensis throughout its range, and with R. australiae in Australian waters.


Dianne J. Bray

Smoothnose Wedgefish, Rhynchobatus laevis (Bloch & Schneider 1801)


Bonfil, R. 1994. Overview of world elasmobranch fisheries. FAO Fisheries Technical Paper 341. FAO, Rome.

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.

Chen, H.K. (ed.) 1996. Shark Fisheries and the Trade in Sharks and Shark Products in Southeast Asia. TRAFFIC Southeast Asia Report, Petaling Jaya, Selangor, Malaysia

Compagno, L.J.V. & Last, P.R. 1999. Rhinidae (=Rhynchobatidae) Wedgefishes pp. 1418-1422. In: Carpenter, K.E. & Niem, V.H. (eds). FAO species identification guide for fishery purposes. FAO species identification guide for fishery purposes. The living marine resources of the Western Central Pacific. Volume 3. Batoid fishes, chimaeras and bony fishes part 1 (Elopidae to Linophrynidae). FAO, Rome, 1466 pp.

Compagno, L.J.V. & Last, P.R. 2008. A new species of wedgefish, Rhynchobatus palpebratus sp. nov. (Rhynchobatoidei: Rhynchobatidae), from the Indo-West Pacific. In: P.R. Last, W.T. White & J.J. Pogonoski (eds). Descriptions of New Australian Chondrichthyans. CSIRO Marine and Atmospheric Research Paper 022, 358 pp.
McAuley, R. & Compagno, L.J.V. (SSG Australia & Oceania Regional Workshop, March 2003) 2003. Rhynchobatus laevis. In: IUCN 2013. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2. . Downloaded on 08 March 2014.

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

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37026003

Conservation:IUCN Near Threatened (Australia), Vulnerable elsewhere

Depth:intertidal to 60 m

Fishing:Commercial bycatch

Habitat:Benthic in coastal waters

Max Size:270 cm TL

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Species Maps

CAAB distribution map