Smalltooth sawfish

Creature Feature – Smalltooth Sawfish

This week’s featured creature is the Smalltooth Sawfish.

Sawfish are easily distinguished by their long, saw-like rostra. While they are often mistaken for sharks they are actually rays. Sawfishes are arguably the most threatened family of marine fishes in the world. The global populations of all five species have experienced historic declines greater than 90% 

Smalltooth sawfish


Scientific Name: Pristis pectinata

Phylum: Chordata

Order: Rhinopristiformes

Family: Prestidae

Genus: Pristis

© D Ramey Logan

Smalltooth Sawfish Fact File

? Size: The smalltooth sawfish is one of the largest species of sawfish, reaching lengths of up to 7.6m, and weighing up to 350kg

? Distribution: They mostly live in warm, shallow waters off the coast of the southeastern United States and in parts of the Caribbean Sea. Sometimes, individuals are spotted off the west coast of Africa. However, today, the species is generally only found off the coast of Florida

? Diet: Their diet consists primarily of fish and invertebrates e.g., shrimp and crabs

? Behaviour: This species reproduces via internal fertilisation and give birth to well-developed, live young. After birth, the young receive no further parental care and are immediately self sufficient with respect to feeding and avoiding predation. Similar to swordfish and thresher sharks. They use their rostra to slash through schools of fish, swinging it from side to side to impale and stun prey

? IUCN Status: Critically Endangered. The main threat to populations is overfishing, but they also suffers from habitat loss. Both their fins (used in shark fin soup) and “saw” (as novelty items) are highly valuable, and the meat is used as food