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Thursday, October 13, 2005

Fish: Smalltooth Sawfish


The most eye-catching feature of the sawfish is of course, their saw-like snout; called a rostrum. The rostrum is covered with motion and electro-sensitive pores that allow sawfishes to detect movement and even heartbeats of buried prey in the ocean floor. The rostrum acts like a metal detector as the sawfish hovers over the bottom, looking for hidden food. It has also been used as a digging tool to unearth buried crustaceans. When a suitable prey swims by, the normally lethargic sawfish will spring from the bottom and slash at it furiously with its saw. This generally stuns or injures the prey sufficiently for the sawfish to devour it without much resistance. Sawfishes have also been known to defend themselves with their rostrum, against predators (like sharks) and intruding divers. The "teeth" protruding from the rostrum are not real teeth, but modified scales. Due to the appearance of the fish, sawfishes are sometimes called "Sharks with Swords".

Status: The smalltooth sawfish is classified as Endangered (EN A1bcd +2cd) on the IUCN Red List 2003 and as Endangered under the United States National Marine Fisheries Service


  • The USS Sawfish, SS 276, served in WW II and racked up quite a record sinking Japanese shipping. It's first two victims were, however, Soviet frieghters sunk by accident.

    By Blogger Talar Joint, at 22:46  

  • Could you talk about the orcas? They are in the spotlight up here in Seattle, WA...

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 06:24  

  • Cool pictures. Please stop by for a visit and leave your flag.


    By Blogger Debbie, at 22:51  

  • I just recently found your blog and am wondering if you will be updating your entries soon? Endangered Species are facinating and the recovery efforts to save them and their habitat is such a wonderful thing.

    I have a confection company called The Wild Bon Bon that is helping to save these wonderful animals through chocolate and candy. As one animal lover to another I would like to invite you to visit my blog.


    I look forward to new posts and new species to learn about.


    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 15:30  

  • Some good news about Sawfish. eBay has banned the trade of Smalltooth Sawfish parts (mainly the head and "saw"). Read more here.

    By Blogger Keys Treasures, at 02:01  

  • The Smalltooth sawfish in Bimini are threatened by habitat destruction because of the construction of Bimini Bay Resort. A short film on Youtube will tell you more and includes some footage of the smalltooth sawfish capture on a digital camera.

    go to


    or google search 'saving the sawfish'

    You can find more information at www.restrictbiminibayresort.org

    By Blogger Sune, at 22:05  

  • Jess man… I swam from Taboga with the tide to the Fortified Islands at the end of the Causeway… [Shiver] Then Bill Beale (think his name was) who caught the world record sawfish took me shark fishing along the route I swam… We boated enough sharks to fill two 55 gallon drums with shark’s livers…


    Here is the excerpt from above (sans his name of course).
    So what does the International Game Fish Association (IGFA) consider the all-tackle world record sawfish? According to IGFA old records administrator Doug Bladgett, it weighed in at 890.5 pounds (403.3 kg). It was recorded only as a sawfish (the species was unspecified) and was caught on May 26, 1960 at Fort Amador, Canal Zone (Panama). Considering the location of capture and the remarkably heavy weight of the fish, it was probably not a smalltooth sawfish, but a largetooth sawfish (Pristis perotteti).

    Also, from some other link-- 50 pound Line Test—268 lbs., 4 oz., Fort Amador, Canal Zone, Oct. 22, 1959, Jack Wagner

    His catch that night in 1960 was off the Yacht Club pier. I was fishing laying down on the concrete braces below the tin-roofed house at the very end of the pier – you remember how I used to take photo-flood lights out and fish for Corbina on the mine dock.. It was low-low tide and he fought it for almost three hours… When it got close we looped a rope over the things bill and held it’s head out of the water until it was dead. We weighed it on the marlin scales down on the tide adjusting platform at the bottom of the rolling ramp, then sold it to the YMCA to sell as fish Chinese “schtuff”. It had about 3 inch long teeth on the side of its 4 foot long bill. I sat on it just behind the eyes and my feet “just” reached the deck of the float platform where we had weighed it on. It took 3 of us to haul it up the pier and then we used Bill’s truck to pull it up the stairs – no way we were going to pull it up the long sloping concrete ramp. After all that sliding on all that concrete, we did not wear through the belly skin. As I recall, they gave us 35 cent a pound – about $300.00. Same price as Jewfish.

    By Blogger Dale, at 18:12  

  • That's an amazing looking creature. Never seen anything like it.

    organic clothing

    By Anonymous Dagny, at 23:18  

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