The animal on the cover of Programming ASP.NET 3.5, Fourth Edition, is a guitarfish,
a part of the family Rhinobatiformes and a close relative of the rays. As their
name implies, guitarfish have a unique bodyshape, with a flattened head and trunk
and a hindbodyresembling that of a shark. Their wide pectoral fins are fused to their
head, giving it a distinctive spadelike shape. Manyadult guitarfish grow to a length
of up to 6 feet, although the giant guitarfish (Rhynchobatus djiddensis) can grow to
10 feet long, weighing as much as 500 pounds. Guitarfish are typically gray or brown
on their dorsal side and white or cream-colored underneath. Theyare ovoviviparous,
meaning their eggs hatch inside the female’s body.
There are approximately45 guitarfish species inhabiting tropical, subtropical, and
temperate waters all over the world. Theyfeed on bottom-dwelling creatures such as
scallops and shrimp; an opening just behind their eyes called the spiracle allows them
to breathe while scavenging for food on the ocean floor.
Well-known guitarfish species include the bowmouth and the shovelnose. The
bowmouth guitarfish is also known as the shark-ray, thanks to large dorsal fins that
give it a sharklike appearance. It has a ridge of spikes above its eyes and along its
back and shoulders, a trait that makes it unpopular among the shrimp fisherman
whose bycatch it often comprises; the bowmouth’s spikes make it difficult to handle
and can damage the commercial catch. The shovelnose, easilyidentified byits pointy
snout, is a not-uncommon sight among snorkelers in southern California. Although
the shovelnose is generallyskittish and not considered aggressive toward humans,
there is one documented case of a scuba diver in La Jolla Cove being bitten bya male
shovelnose interrupted in his pursuit of a female guitarfish.