Overview

Brief Summary

The Smalltooth Sawfish (Pristis pectinata) has a snout that is extended as a long, flattened blade (around a quarter of the total length of the fish) with 24 or more teeth along each side. The dorsal fin originates directly over the pelvic fin insertion. The caudal (tail) fin is large and shark-like. Smalltooth Sawfish may reach 5.5 m in length. They are found in estuaries, the lower parts of large rivers, and shallow coastal waters. Historically, Smalltooth Sawfish occurred from Chesapeake Bay (rarely as far north as New York), Bermuda, and the northern Gulf of Mexico south to Brazil or northern Argentina, as well as in the eastern Atlantic. However, during the past fifty to a hundred years, they appear to have been extirpated from much of their former range and are now formally listed as endangered. (Boschung et al. 1983; Robins and Ray 1986; Poulakis et al. 2011)

In the Atlantic waters off the United States, the Smalltooth Sawfish has declined by at least 95% relative to its abundance in the early 1900s; by the 1980s, the core distribution had contracted to southwestern Florida. At the dawn of the 20th century, this species was extremely common in waters around the southeastern United States. However, in the early 1900s, nearshore net fisheries developed in this region that resulted in large sawfish losses due to accidental bycatch as sawfishes became easily entangled in nets intended for other species. In addition, loss of wetlands critical to their reproduction accelerated with the rapid development of this region. By the 1990s, the Florida populations appeared to have stabilized (at an extremely reduced level) and today the main threats to the recovery of the species appear to be habitat loss, marine pollution, and injuries inflicted directly by humans. Factors making this species more vulnerable to population reductions include their small litter size, slow growth, and late maturity (based on the limited data available, generation time has been estimated to be around 27 years and lifespan around 30 to 60 years). However, recent genetic analyses by Chapman et al. (2011) suggest that despite the dramatic population decline, a high level of genetic diversity has been retained., i.e., no genetic bottleneck has been detected despite the demographc bottleneck. (Seitz and Poulakis 2006; Chapman et al. 2011 and references therein)

Immature Smalltooth Sawfish are highly dependent on shallow inshore habitats (less than 2 m deep), especially around the mouths of rivers and in estuaries. Very young individuals occur on shallow sand and mud banks, often not leaving water less than 30 cm deep for extended periods (adults are known to occur in waters up to 100 m deep). Males mature at around 270 cm total length (TL), and females at around 360 cm TL. Litter size is thought to be 15 to 20, although data are limited. The young are born at 60 to 80 cm TL. (Simpfendorfer 2005)

Smalltooth Sawfish are not aggressive and pose no danger to humans except when they are caught and handled. The saw can be used to obtain food by slashing it from side to side among schooling fish, stunning or killing them, then ingesting them whole. Juveniles also consume shrimp and crabs. The saws have sometimes been dried and sold as souvenirs. (Boschung et al. 1983; Robins and Ray 1986; Simpfendorfer 2005)

For more information about the biology and conservation of Smalltooth Sawfishes, visit the NMFS-NOAA, IUCN, and U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service pages devoted to this species.

  • Boschung, H.T., Jr., Williams, J.D., Gotshall, D.W., Caldwell, D.K., and M.C. Caldwell. 1983. The Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Fishes, Whales, and Dolphins. Alfred A, Knopf, New York.
  • Chapman, D.D., Simpfendorfer, C.A., Wiley, T.R., ,Poulakis, G.R., Curtis, C., Tringali, M., Carlson, J.K., and K.A. Feldheim. 2011. Genetic Diversity Despite Population Collapse in a Critically Endangered Marine Fish: The Smalltooth Sawfish (Pristis pectinata). Journal of Heredity 102(6):643–652.
  • Poulakis, G.R., Stevens, P.W., Timmers, A.A., Wiley, T.R., and C.A. Simpfendorfer. 2011. Abiotic affinities and spatiotemporal distribution of the endangered Smalltooth sawfish, Pristis pectinata, in a south-western Florida nursery. Marine and Freshwater Research 62:1165–1177.
  • Robins, C.R. and G.C. Ray. 1986. A Field Guide to Atlantic Coast Fishes of North America. Houghton Mifflin, Boston.
  • Seitz, J.C. and G.R. Poulakis. 2006. Anthropogenic effects on the Smalltooth Sawfish (Pristis pectinata) in the United States. Marine Pollution Bulletin 52:1533–1540.
  • Simpfendorfer, C.A. 2005. Threatened fishes of the world: Pristis pectinata Latham, 1794 (Pristidae). Environmental Biology of Fishes 73: 20.
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Biology

The sawfish uses its saw to catch prey in two ways; firstly by using it as a rake to sift through the sand for crustaceans such as crabs and shrimps, and secondly by using it as a sword to swipe through schools of shoaling fish such as mullet, lacerating or stunning individuals. The smalltooth sawfish is predated on by sharks, but only when it is young and undersized (2) (3). Little is known about the life cycle of the smalltooth sawfish but it is thought to breed year round in areas of constant climate, but elsewhere, only in the summer. Fertilisation is internal and the pups develop inside the female, who gives birth a year later to 15 to 20 pups. The saws of the newborns are sheathed and malleable at birth for protection. The pups are around 60 cm long at birth (3) (4) (5).
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Description

The smalltooth sawfish gets its name from the Greek word 'pristis', meaning saw and the small teeth that line the edges of its saw, which are not as large as those of other members of the sawfish family. The sawfish has a flattened shark-shaped body, brown to bluish-grey in colour, with a white underside, and wing-shaped pectoral fins. The saw is a quarter of the total length of the body and has between 25 and 32 pairs of small, sharp teeth which are longer and less broad towards the end of the saw. The mouth is on the underside and contains 10 to 12 rows of teeth in both jaws. The upper side of the sawfish is covered in rough tooth-like scales, whereas the underside is coated in smooth tooth-like scales (2) (3).
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Pristis pectinata enjoys a suite of names in languages as disparate as Sindhi, Wolof, Mandarin, Swedish and Somali (Read more: Common Names). Though it was once a common species in tropical waters around the globe, its habitat is now reduced by 90 percent.

The species is part of a group of cartilaginous fishes known as elasmobranchs, which includes sharks, skates and rays (NOAA n.d.). With its elongated body, dorsal fins and flat underbelly, the smalltooth sawfish looks like a shark when seen from above. From below, it resembles a ray with its ventral mouth, gills and flattened pectoral fins(Hill 2006). When they are born, juveniles measure about two feet (around 60 cm) in body length. By the time they reach maturity at about 10 years, they can grow to 18 ft (5.5 m) on average, and some individuals have even been found at 25 ft (7 m) in length (Simpfendorfer 2005). Their defining feature, a rostrum that resembles a saw blade, bears 24-32 teeth and constitutes a quarter of the body length.

The elongated rostrum is thought to serve several functions. There are no known directed studies of P. pectinata feeding habits, but they are thought to prey on benthic crustaceans and small schooling fish such as mullets and clupeids(Strickland 2009). When feeding, P. pectinata slash sideways through schools of fish, impaling fish on the teeth along the edges of the blade-like rostrum. The fish are then scraped off and eaten by rubbing the rostrum on a substrate and then gulping the fish whole It is thought the rostrum is also used to stir up sediments and flick out crustaceans (Hill 2006) (Strickland 2009).

The rostrum has also gotten the species in trouble. In the early 20th century, the blade-like rostra became trophies for recreational fishermen. Sawfish also got their rostra entangled in lines and nets, becoming prey to commercial fisheries (Hill 2006). In 2000 the smalltooth sawfish was listed as Critically Endangered under the IUCN (Adams, et al. 2006), and Endangered under the U.S. Endangered Species Act in 2003 (Strickland 2009). It is thought to be completely extinct from the Mediterranean Sea and Northeast Atlantic (Adams, et al. 2006).

There are few records of sawfish population distribution in U.S. waters, but museum specimens and anecdotal evidence from fishermen indicate it was once widespread in the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico from Texas all the way to New York. Today, the range of the smalltooth sawfish has shrunk to cover only the Everglades region in the southern tip of Florida (NOAA n.d.)(Strickland 2009) (Read more: Trends and Threats).

  • Adams, W.F., S.L. Fowler, P. Charvet-Almeida, V. Faria, J. Soto, and M. Furtado. "Pristis pectinata." Vers. 2010.2. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. 2006. www.iucnredlist.org (accessed August 25 2010).

  • Hill, K. "Pristis pectinata." Smithsonian Marine Station. July 25, 2006. http://www.sms.si.edu/IRLSpec/Pristi_pectin.htm (accessed August 2010).

  • NOAA. Smalltooth Sawfish (Pristis pectinata). Office of Protected Resources. http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/species/fish/smalltoothsawfish.htm (accessed August 2010).

  • Simpfendorfer, C.A. 2005. "Threatened fishes of the world: Pristis pectinata Latham, 1794 (Pristidae)." Environmental Biology of Fishes 73, no. 20.

  • Strickland, Thomas L. "Critical Habitat for the Endangered Distinct Population Segment of Smalltooth Sawfish." Federal Register. Vol. 74. no. 169. National Marine Fisheries Service, August 27, 2009.

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Comprehensive Description

Biology

Inshore and intertidal species, but may cross deep water to reach offshore islands; also ascends rivers and can tolerate fresh water (Ref. 9859). Commonly seen in bays, lagoons, estuaries, and river mouths. Also found in rivers and lakes (Ref. 12951). Feeds on fishes and shellfishes (Ref. 58784). Ovoviviparous (Ref. 50449). Uses its saw to stir the bottom when feeding on bottom invertebrates and to kill pelagic fishes (Ref. 9859). Utilized as a food fish; oil is used to make medicine, soap and in leather tanning (Ref. 6871). Adults stuffed for decoration (Ref. 6871). Reported to be aggressive towards sharks when kept in tanks (Ref. 12951).
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The Smalltooth Sawfish (Pristis pectinata) has a snout that is extended as a long, flattened blade (around a quarter of the total length of the fish) with 24 or more teeth along each side.. The dorsal fin originates directly over the pelvic fin insertion. The caudal (tail) fin is large and shark-like. Smalltooth Sawfish may reach 5.5 m in length. They are found in estuaries, the lower parts of large rivers, and shallow coastal waters. Historically, Smalltooth Sawfish occurred from Chesapeake Bay (rarely as far north as New York), Bermuda, and the northern Gulf of Mexico south to Brazil or northern Argentina, as well as in the eastern Atlantic. However, during the past fifty to a hundred years, they appear to have been extirpated from much of their former range and are now formally listed as endangered. (Boschung et al. 1983; Robins and Ray 1986; Poulakis et al. 2011)

In the Atlantic waters off the United States, the Smalltooth Sawfish has declined by at least 95% relative to its abundance in the early 1900s; by the 1980s, the core distribution had contracted to southwestern Florida. At the dawn of the 20th century, this species was extremely common in waters around the southeastern United States. However, in the early 1900s, nearshore net fisheries developed in this region that resulted in large sawfish losses due to accidental bycatch as sawfishes became easily entangled in nets intended for other species. In addition, loss of wetlands critical to their reproduction accelerated with the rapid development of this region. By the 1990s, the Florida populations appeared to have stabilized (at an extremely reduced level) and today the main threats to the recovery of the species appear to be habitat loss, marine pollution, and injuries inflicted directly by humans. Factors making this species more vulnerable to population reductions include their small litter size, slow growth, and late maturity (based on the limited data available, generation time has been estimated to be around 27 years and lifespan around 30 to 60 years). However, recent genetic analyses by Chapman et al. (2011) suggest that despite the dramatic population decline, a high level of genetic diversity has been retained., i.e., no genetic bottleneck has been detected despite the demographc bottleneck. (Seitz and Poulakis 2006; Chapman et al. 2011 and references therein)

Immature Smalltooth Sawfish are highly dependent on shallow inshore habitats (

  • Boschung, H.T., Jr., Williams, J.D., Gotshall, D.W., Caldwell, D.K., and M.C. Caldwell. 1983. The Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Fishes, Whales, and Dolphins. Alfred A, Knopf, New York.
  • Robins, C.R. and G.C. Ray. 1986. A Field Guide to Atlantic Coast Fishes of North America. Houghton Mifflin, Boston.
  • Poulakis, G.R., Stevens, P.W., Timmers, A.A., Wiley, T.R., and C.A. Simpfendorfer. 2011. Abiotic affinities and spatiotemporal distribution of the endangered Smalltooth sawfish, Pristis pectinata, in a south-western Florida nursery. Marine and Freshwater Research 62:1165–1177.
  • Chapman, D.D., Simpfendorfer, C.A., Wiley, T.R., ,Poulakis, G.R., Curtis, C., Tringali, M., Carlson, J.K., and K.A. Feldheim. 2011. Genetic Diversity Despite Population Collapse in a Critically Endangered Marine Fish: The Smalltooth Sawfish (Pristis pectinata). Journal of Heredity 102(6):643–652.
  • Seitz, J.C. and G.R. Poulakis. 2006. Anthropogenic effects on the Smalltooth Sawfish (Pristis pectinata) in the United States. Marine Pollution Bulletin 52:1533–1540.
  • Simpfendorfer, C.A. 2005. Threatened fishes of the world: Pristis pectinata Latham, 1794 (Pristidae). Environmental Biology of Fishes 73: 20.
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Pristis pectinata is a distinctive fish that grows to a length of 5.4 - 7.6 m (18 - 25 feet) (NMFS 2000). They are classified as rays, but are primarily shark-like in appearance, though the head, trunk, and pectoral fins are ventrally flattened as in rays. Pectoral fins have broad bases and straight hind margins (Simpfendorfer 2005).Body form is elongate, with the first and second dorsal fins tall and approximately equal in size. The origin of the first doral fin is set over the origin of the pelvic fins. Both the mouth and gill slits are located ventrally. The snout is elongated into a flattened rostral blade that measures approximately 1/4 of total body length and is armed along either edge with 24 - 32 transverse teeth (NMFS 2000). The caudal fin lacks a well-defined lower lobe. Body color is generally blue-gray to brown, with the ventral surface white. Both jaws have 10 - 12 rows of teeth, with 88-128 teeth in the upper jaw and 84 - 176 in the lower jaw. The teeth are rounded anteriorly and have a blunt cutting posterior edge. The skin has numerous dermal denticles that vary in size and shape (Bigelow and Schroeder 1948; NMFS 2000).
  • Adams, W.F. and C. Wilson. 1995. The status of the smalltooth sawfish, Pristis pectinata Latham 1794 (Pristiformes: Pristidae), in the United States. Chondros 6(4):1-5.
  • Bean, T.H. 1892. Observations upon fishes and fish culture. Bull. U.S. Fish. Comm. 10:49 - 61.
  • Bigelow, H.B. and W.C. Schroeder. 1953. Sawfishes, guitarfishes, skates and rays. Pp. 1 - 514 in: Tee-Van, J., C.M. Breder, A.E. Parr, W.C. Schroeder, and L.P. Schultz (eds.). Fishes of the Western North Atlantic, Part Two. Mem. Sear Found. Mar. Res. I.
  • Bigelow, H.B. and W.C. Schroeder. 1948. New genera and species of batoid fishes. J. Mar. Res. 543 - 566.
  • Breder, C.M. 1952. On the utility of the saw of the sawfish. Copeia 1952 (2):90 - 91.
  • Evermann, B.W. and B.A. Bean. 1892. The fishes of Texas and the Rio Grande Basin considered chiefly with reference to their geographical distribution.Bull. U.S. Fish. Comm. 12:57-126.
  • Gilmore, R.G. 1995. Environmental and biogeographic factors influencing ichtyofaunal diversity: Indian River Lagoon. Bull. Mar. Sci. 57(1):153-170.
  • Last, P.R. and J.D. Stevens. 1994. Sharks and Rays of Australia. CSIRO, Australia. 513 pp.
  • National Marine Fisheries Service. 2000. Status review of the smalltooth sawfish (Pristis pectinata).
  • Schmid, T.H., L.M. Ehrhardt, and F.F. Snelson. 1988. Notes on the occurrence of rays (Elasmobranchii, batoidea) in the Indian River Lagoon system, Florida. Fl. Sci. 51(2):121-128.
  • Simpfendorfer, C.A. 2005. Threatened fishes of the World: Pristis pectinata Latham, 1794 (Pristidae). Environmental Biology of Fishes (2005)73:20.
  • Simpfendorfer, C.A. 2000. Predicting population recovery rates for endangered Western Atlantic sawfishes using demographic analysis. EnvironmentalBiology of Fishes. 58:371-377.
  • Snelson, F.F. and S.E. Williams. 1981. Notes on the occurrence, distribution, and biology of elasmobranch fishes in the Indian River Lagoon system,Florida. Estuaries 4(2):110 - 120.
  • Stehmann, M. 1981. Pristidae. In: W. Fischer, G. Bianchi, and W.B. Scott (eds.) FAO species identification sheets for fishery purposes. Eastern Central Atlantic Fishing Areas 34, 47 (in part). Vol. 5.
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Distribution

Range Description

In the Western Atlantic Ocean, Smalltooth Sawfish were widely distributed throughout tropical and subtropical marine and estuarine waters. Smalltooth Sawfish were found from Uruguay through the Caribbean and Central America, the Gulf of Mexico, and the Atlantic coast of the United States (Faria et al. 2013). However, Smalltooth Sawfish has been wholly or nearly extirpated from large areas of its former range. The species is currently known to occur in the southeastern United States (Simpfendorfer 2002), Bahamas (D. Grubbs pers. comm. 2012), Cuba, Honduras and Belize (R. Graham pers. comm. 2012).

The current distribution of Smalltooth Sawfish in the Eastern Atlantic is uncertain due to species misidentification, lack of reporting, and the general contraction of its range. Smalltooth Sawfish was historically found along the coast of western Africa from Angola to Mauritania (Faria et al. 2013). There has been only one confirmed record for the region in the last 10 years (Sierra Leone in 2003). There are unconfirmed records (Pristis sp.) from only two other countries (Guinea-Bissau in 2011, and Mauritania 2010).

The presence of sawfishes in the Mediterranean Sea is still uncertain (Whitehead et al. 1984, Bilecenoğlu and Taşkavak 1999). Although Smalltooth Sawfish were included in historic faunal lists (Serena 2005), it is still debatable whether sawfishes occurred as part of the Mediterranean ichthyofauna or are a vagrant species as seasonal migrants from areas off western Africa. Reports of Smalltooth Sawfish outside of the Atlantic Ocean are likely misidentifications of other sawfish species (Faria et al. 2013).
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National Distribution

United States

Origin: Native

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Present

Confidence: Confident

Type of Residency: Year-round

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Global Range: (Unknown) Historical range reportedly included marine habitats in parts of the eastern Pacific Ocean, western and eastern Atlantic, Mediterranean Sea, Indo-Pacific, and Red Sea, and freshwater habitats in North, Central, and South America, Africa, and India (NMFS 2000). However, reports of this species from outside the Atlantic may be based on misidentifications of other pristids (NMFS 2001, 2003; Faria et al. 2013). Historical distribution in the eastern Atlantic was along the west coast of Afica; in the western Atlantic Ocean, the range extended from North Carolina (rarely New York), Bermuda, and the northern Gulf of Mexico to Brazil (Robins and Ray 1986); probably not a permanent resident north of Florida (NMFS 2000); prior to around 1960, commonly occurred as far north as the Gulf of Mexico and North Carolina (NMFS 2003). Current distribution is centered on Everglades National Park, including Florida Bay (NMFS 2001, 2003). The depleted U.S. population may be the largest population in the western Atlantic (NMFS 2001). In the last 10 years, there has been only one confirmed record of a smalltooth sawfish outside of U.S. waters, in Sierra Leone, west Africa, in 2003 (M. Diop, pers. comm., cited by NMFS 2013). Two other countries have recently reported sawfish (Guinea Bissau, Africa in 2011, and Mauritania in 2010), but these reports did not specify them as smalltooth sawfish (NMFS 2013).

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N.C. (rarely N.Y.), Bermuda, and n. Gulf of Mexico to Brazil
  • North-West Atlantic Ocean species (NWARMS)
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Circumglobal. Western Atlantic: North Carolina (USA), Bermuda and northern Gulf of Mexico (Ref. 7251) to Argentina (Ref. 58839). Caribbean, rare in Bermuda (Ref. 26938). Eastern Atlantic: Gibraltar to Namibia; possibly in the Mediterranean Sea (Ref. 9859). Indo-West Pacific: Red Sea and East Africa to the Philippines (Ref. 9859). Possibly occurring in the eastern Pacific (Ref. 9859).
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Historic Range:
U.S.A., Atlantic: NC Through FL; Gulf of Mexico: TX Through FL

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Smalltooth sawfishes are a circumtropical species, and have been documented from Europe, West Africa, the Red Sea and the Indian Ocean. They have also been reported from the Philippines and Australia, though these specimens may possibly have been misidentified (Adams 1995; Simpfendorfer 2005). In the Western Atlantic, the range extends from approximately southern Chesapeake Bay south to Brazil, including Bermuda, the Caribbean, and the Gulf of Mexico. However, observations of this endangered fish are now regularly reported only from the waters of south and southwest Florida, with occasional sitings as far north as the Indian River Lagoon on Florida's East coast, and Tampa Bay on Florida's West coast.Records from the late 1700s and early 1800s report smalltooth sawfishes being captured in waters off New York and New Jersey during the summer months when water temperatures were at their highest in these areas. However, it is estimated that the historical range ofPristis pectinata has contracted by more than 90%, and the species is currently in danger of extinction. Records from the late 1800s show that the India River Lagoon was an area of abundance for Pristis pectinata (Bean 1884; Evermann and Bean 1896). Today, they are only rarely encountered.
  • Adams, W.F. and C. Wilson. 1995. The status of the smalltooth sawfish, Pristis pectinata Latham 1794 (Pristiformes: Pristidae), in the United States. Chondros 6(4):1-5.
  • Bean, T.H. 1892. Observations upon fishes and fish culture. Bull. U.S. Fish. Comm. 10:49 - 61.
  • Bigelow, H.B. and W.C. Schroeder. 1953. Sawfishes, guitarfishes, skates and rays. Pp. 1 - 514 in: Tee-Van, J., C.M. Breder, A.E. Parr, W.C. Schroeder, and L.P. Schultz (eds.). Fishes of the Western North Atlantic, Part Two. Mem. Sear Found. Mar. Res. I.
  • Bigelow, H.B. and W.C. Schroeder. 1948. New genera and species of batoid fishes. J. Mar. Res. 543 - 566.
  • Breder, C.M. 1952. On the utility of the saw of the sawfish. Copeia 1952 (2):90 - 91.
  • Evermann, B.W. and B.A. Bean. 1892. The fishes of Texas and the Rio Grande Basin considered chiefly with reference to their geographical distribution.Bull. U.S. Fish. Comm. 12:57-126.
  • Gilmore, R.G. 1995. Environmental and biogeographic factors influencing ichtyofaunal diversity: Indian River Lagoon. Bull. Mar. Sci. 57(1):153-170.
  • Last, P.R. and J.D. Stevens. 1994. Sharks and Rays of Australia. CSIRO, Australia. 513 pp.
  • National Marine Fisheries Service. 2000. Status review of the smalltooth sawfish (Pristis pectinata).
  • Schmid, T.H., L.M. Ehrhardt, and F.F. Snelson. 1988. Notes on the occurrence of rays (Elasmobranchii, batoidea) in the Indian River Lagoon system, Florida. Fl. Sci. 51(2):121-128.
  • Simpfendorfer, C.A. 2005. Threatened fishes of the World: Pristis pectinata Latham, 1794 (Pristidae). Environmental Biology of Fishes (2005)73:20.
  • Simpfendorfer, C.A. 2000. Predicting population recovery rates for endangered Western Atlantic sawfishes using demographic analysis. EnvironmentalBiology of Fishes. 58:371-377.
  • Snelson, F.F. and S.E. Williams. 1981. Notes on the occurrence, distribution, and biology of elasmobranch fishes in the Indian River Lagoon system,Florida. Estuaries 4(2):110 - 120.
  • Stehmann, M. 1981. Pristidae. In: W. Fischer, G. Bianchi, and W.B. Scott (eds.) FAO species identification sheets for fishery purposes. Eastern Central Atlantic Fishing Areas 34, 47 (in part). Vol. 5.
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Circumglobal in tropical and warm temperate seas (including Mediterranean Sea [extinct], Mascarenes [extinct]).
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Range

The historical distribution of this species was worldwide, although recent declines in number mean that the smalltooth sawfish is now absent from many sites. In American waters, the smalltooth sawfish used to be prevalent in coastal areas from New York, around the Floridian peninsula and along as far as Texas (1) (2) (3).
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Physical Description

Morphology

Anal spines: 0; Analsoft rays: 0
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Size

Maximum size: 7600 mm TL
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Max. size

760 cm TL (male/unsexed; (Ref. 6871)); max. published weight: 350.0 kg (Ref. 3164)
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Pristis pectinata grows to a maximum length of 7.6 m (25 feet), though it is more commonly observed at approximately 6 m (19.6 feet) (Simpfendorfer 2005). They may live longer than 30 years based on specimens held in public aquaria that lived in excess of 20 years (NMFS 2000).
  • Adams, W.F. and C. Wilson. 1995. The status of the smalltooth sawfish, Pristis pectinata Latham 1794 (Pristiformes: Pristidae), in the United States. Chondros 6(4):1-5.
  • Bean, T.H. 1892. Observations upon fishes and fish culture. Bull. U.S. Fish. Comm. 10:49 - 61.
  • Bigelow, H.B. and W.C. Schroeder. 1953. Sawfishes, guitarfishes, skates and rays. Pp. 1 - 514 in: Tee-Van, J., C.M. Breder, A.E. Parr, W.C. Schroeder, and L.P. Schultz (eds.). Fishes of the Western North Atlantic, Part Two. Mem. Sear Found. Mar. Res. I.
  • Bigelow, H.B. and W.C. Schroeder. 1948. New genera and species of batoid fishes. J. Mar. Res. 543 - 566.
  • Breder, C.M. 1952. On the utility of the saw of the sawfish. Copeia 1952 (2):90 - 91.
  • Evermann, B.W. and B.A. Bean. 1892. The fishes of Texas and the Rio Grande Basin considered chiefly with reference to their geographical distribution.Bull. U.S. Fish. Comm. 12:57-126.
  • Gilmore, R.G. 1995. Environmental and biogeographic factors influencing ichtyofaunal diversity: Indian River Lagoon. Bull. Mar. Sci. 57(1):153-170.
  • Last, P.R. and J.D. Stevens. 1994. Sharks and Rays of Australia. CSIRO, Australia. 513 pp.
  • National Marine Fisheries Service. 2000. Status review of the smalltooth sawfish (Pristis pectinata).
  • Schmid, T.H., L.M. Ehrhardt, and F.F. Snelson. 1988. Notes on the occurrence of rays (Elasmobranchii, batoidea) in the Indian River Lagoon system, Florida. Fl. Sci. 51(2):121-128.
  • Simpfendorfer, C.A. 2005. Threatened fishes of the World: Pristis pectinata Latham, 1794 (Pristidae). Environmental Biology of Fishes (2005)73:20.
  • Simpfendorfer, C.A. 2000. Predicting population recovery rates for endangered Western Atlantic sawfishes using demographic analysis. EnvironmentalBiology of Fishes. 58:371-377.
  • Snelson, F.F. and S.E. Williams. 1981. Notes on the occurrence, distribution, and biology of elasmobranch fishes in the Indian River Lagoon system,Florida. Estuaries 4(2):110 - 120.
  • Stehmann, M. 1981. Pristidae. In: W. Fischer, G. Bianchi, and W.B. Scott (eds.) FAO species identification sheets for fishery purposes. Eastern Central Atlantic Fishing Areas 34, 47 (in part). Vol. 5.
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Diagnostic Description

Description

Inhabits mainly inshore coastal waters, also around offlying islands. Commonly seen in estuaries, lagoons, river mouths and even freshwater. Adapted to water temperatures of 16° to 30°C. Uses its saw to stir the bottom when feeding on bottom invertebrates and to kill pelagic fishes (Ref. 9859). Ovoviviparous, with gravid females containing about 15-20 embryos. Saws serving as trophies or taken by tourists as souvenirs. Young are utilized as food in the Western Atlantic (Ref. 9859).
  • Anon. (1996). FishBase 96 [CD-ROM]. ICLARM: Los Baños, Philippines. 1 cd-rom pp.
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Long, flat, blade-like rostrum with 24 to 32 pairs of teeth along edges; caudal fin large and oblique with no lower lobe (Ref. 26938). Dark mouse gray to blackish brown above, paler along margins of fins. White to grayish white or pale yellow below (Ref. 6902).
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Look Alikes

The largetooth sawfish, Pristis perotteti, is similar in body shape and size. It can be distinguished from P. pectinata based on its having a somewhat longer rostrum, and by the number of teeth on the rostrum: smalltooth sawfishes have 23 - 34 teeth on either side of the saw, while largetooth sawfishes have 17 - 22 teeth. Further, P. perotteti has a distinct lower lobe on the caudal fin. Largetooth sawfishes are quite rare in Florida waters but have not yet been listed as Endangered species because so little is known about their biology.
  • Adams, W.F. and C. Wilson. 1995. The status of the smalltooth sawfish, Pristis pectinata Latham 1794 (Pristiformes: Pristidae), in the United States. Chondros 6(4):1-5.
  • Bean, T.H. 1892. Observations upon fishes and fish culture. Bull. U.S. Fish. Comm. 10:49 - 61.
  • Bigelow, H.B. and W.C. Schroeder. 1953. Sawfishes, guitarfishes, skates and rays. Pp. 1 - 514 in: Tee-Van, J., C.M. Breder, A.E. Parr, W.C. Schroeder, and L.P. Schultz (eds.). Fishes of the Western North Atlantic, Part Two. Mem. Sear Found. Mar. Res. I.
  • Bigelow, H.B. and W.C. Schroeder. 1948. New genera and species of batoid fishes. J. Mar. Res. 543 - 566.
  • Breder, C.M. 1952. On the utility of the saw of the sawfish. Copeia 1952 (2):90 - 91.
  • Evermann, B.W. and B.A. Bean. 1892. The fishes of Texas and the Rio Grande Basin considered chiefly with reference to their geographical distribution.Bull. U.S. Fish. Comm. 12:57-126.
  • Gilmore, R.G. 1995. Environmental and biogeographic factors influencing ichtyofaunal diversity: Indian River Lagoon. Bull. Mar. Sci. 57(1):153-170.
  • Last, P.R. and J.D. Stevens. 1994. Sharks and Rays of Australia. CSIRO, Australia. 513 pp.
  • National Marine Fisheries Service. 2000. Status review of the smalltooth sawfish (Pristis pectinata).
  • Schmid, T.H., L.M. Ehrhardt, and F.F. Snelson. 1988. Notes on the occurrence of rays (Elasmobranchii, batoidea) in the Indian River Lagoon system, Florida. Fl. Sci. 51(2):121-128.
  • Simpfendorfer, C.A. 2005. Threatened fishes of the World: Pristis pectinata Latham, 1794 (Pristidae). Environmental Biology of Fishes (2005)73:20.
  • Simpfendorfer, C.A. 2000. Predicting population recovery rates for endangered Western Atlantic sawfishes using demographic analysis. EnvironmentalBiology of Fishes. 58:371-377.
  • Snelson, F.F. and S.E. Williams. 1981. Notes on the occurrence, distribution, and biology of elasmobranch fishes in the Indian River Lagoon system,Florida. Estuaries 4(2):110 - 120.
  • Stehmann, M. 1981. Pristidae. In: W. Fischer, G. Bianchi, and W.B. Scott (eds.) FAO species identification sheets for fishery purposes. Eastern Central Atlantic Fishing Areas 34, 47 (in part). Vol. 5.
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Ecology

Habitat

Habitat Type: Marine

Comments: Shallow coastal, estuarine, and fresh waters; often in brackish water near river mouths and large embayments, in deeper holes on bottoms of mud or muddy sand (NMFS 2000). Mature individuals regularly occur in waters deeper than 50 m (Simpfendorfer 2002).

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benthic
  • North-West Atlantic Ocean species (NWARMS)
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Habitat and Ecology

Habitat and Ecology
Currently, life history information for the Smalltooth Sawfish is only available for the Western Atlantic and it assumed that life history parameters are similar for conspecifics throughout the Atlantic Ocean. This species is lecithotrophic viviparous and litter size is thought to be 15–20 pups (Simpfendorfer 2005) born every other year, but there are little supporting data for this. Demographic analysis using early reports of life history and estimates from other pristids indicated that Smalltooth Sawfish intrinsic rate of increase ranged from 0.08 to 0.13 yr−1, and population doubling times from 5.4 to 8.5 yrs (Simpfendorfer 2000).

There is still some question regarding age and size at maturity for Smalltooth Sawfish. Simpfendorfer (2005) reported maturity at 360 cm TL for females. However, females of 300–400 cm stretched total length (STL) necropsied from the US were immature, with the smallest mature female examined being 415 cm STL (J.K. Carlson unpublished data). Males were thought to be mature about 270 cm TL (Simpfendorfer 2005). However, a recently necropsied male Smalltooth Sawfish that was 308 cm TL was found to be immature (J.K. Carlson unpublished data). The smallest mature male from field-collected specimens was 371 cm STL (J.K. Carlson unpublished data). Back-transforming these lengths into ages using the von Bertalanffy growth model of Scharer et al. (2012) indicates that males mature around 7.5 years and females 10–12 years. As these data indicate much faster growth and earlier maturation than previously determined, any updated demographic model will likely indicate higher productivity and rebound potential. Moreno Iturria (2012) constructed a deterministic model based on standard life table techniques using growth estimates from Simpfendorfer et al. (2008) and calculated demographic parameters for Smalltooth Sawfish for US waters. Intrinsic rates of increase were estimated as 0.07 per year, generation time 17 years and population doubling time 9.7 years.

Recent information on tag-recaptured juvenile Smalltooth Sawfish collected in Florida, USA, indicates substantially faster growth than previously assumed for this species. Simpfendorfer et al. (2008) found that growth was rapid during the first two years after birth.

Using data from reported encounters from 1998 to 2008, Wiley and Simpfendorfer (2010) evaluated Smalltooth Sawfish habitat use patterns in the US. There was an inverse relationship between sawfish size and extent of northern distribution, with animals less than 200 cm having a wider latitudinal distribution and occurring farthest north, and animals greater than 200 cm reported mostly in southern Florida (Wiley and Simpfendorfer 2010). Most encounters occurred in estuarine and nearshore habitats, and their locations were not randomly distributed, having a positive association with inshore mangrove and seagrass habitats. While sawfish were reported in depths to 73 m, there was a significant relationship between size and depth, with smaller animals occurring in shallower waters (Wiley and Simpfendorfer 2010).

Data from acoustic telemetry and tag-recapture information indicates Smalltooth Sawfish (less than 100 cm) had the smallest home ranges, low linearity of movement, and a preference for very shallow mud banks (Simpfendorfer et al. 2010). Juveniles greater than 100 cm demonstrated larger home ranges, preference for shallow mud/sand banks, and remained close to mangrove shorelines. Tide was found to be the main factor influencing movement on short time scales. Sawfish <150 cm STL spend the majority of their time in water <0.5 m deep, while larger juveniles spend most of their time in water 0.5–1.0 m deep. Juveniles >130 cm had high levels of site fidelity for specific nursery areas for periods up to almost 3 months, but the smaller juveniles had relatively short site fidelity to specific locations (Simpfendorfer et al. 2010).

Based on data from catch-per-unit effort (CPUE), Poulakis et al. (2011) found that most juvenile Smalltooth Sawfish had an affinity for water less than 1.0 m deep, water temperature over 30ºC, dissolved oxygen over 6 mg/L, and salinity between 18 and 30. Greater catch rates for sawfish over age one were associated with shoreline habitats with overhanging vegetation such as mangroves (Poulakis et al. 2011).

Simpfendorfer et al. (2011) conducted a long-term tracking study and found mean daily activity space was 1.42 km of river distance. The distance between 30-minute centres of activity was typically 0.1 km, suggesting limited movement over short time scales. Salinity electivity analysis demonstrated an affinity for salinities between 18 and at least 24, suggesting movements are likely made in part, to remain within this range (Simpfendorfer et al. 2011).

The US National Marine Fisheries Service designated critical habitat for the US distinct population segment of Smalltooth Sawfish (Norton et al. 2012). The nursery habitats essential to the conservation of the species were identified as those adjacent to red mangroves (Rhizophora mangle) and euryhaline habitats with water depths less than or equal to 0.9 m (Norton et al. 2012).

For adult sawfish, unpublished data from pop-off archival satellite transmitting (PAT) tags indicate Smalltooth Sawfish spend the majority of their time in shallow waters (<10 m deep) and prefer temperatures between 22°C and 28°C (J.K. Carlson unpublished data). The maximum recorded depth for Smalltooth Sawfish is 88 m.

Systems
  • Marine
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Environment

demersal; amphidromous (Ref. 51243); freshwater; brackish; marine; depth range ? - 10 m (Ref. 4429)
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Depth range based on 3 specimens in 1 taxon.
Water temperature and chemistry ranges based on 2 samples.

Environmental ranges
  Depth range (m): 3 - 66
  Temperature range (°C): 21.090 - 22.529
  Nitrate (umol/L): 1.022 - 2.883
  Salinity (PPS): 36.250 - 36.377
  Oxygen (ml/l): 4.263 - 4.757
  Phosphate (umol/l): 0.153 - 0.265
  Silicate (umol/l): 1.611 - 2.115

Graphical representation

Depth range (m): 3 - 66

Temperature range (°C): 21.090 - 22.529

Nitrate (umol/L): 1.022 - 2.883

Salinity (PPS): 36.250 - 36.377

Oxygen (ml/l): 4.263 - 4.757

Phosphate (umol/l): 0.153 - 0.265

Silicate (umol/l): 1.611 - 2.115
 
Note: this information has not been validated. Check this *note*. Your feedback is most welcome.

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Depth: 0 - 10m.
Recorded at 10 meters.

Habitat: demersal.
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The smalltooth sawfish can exist both in saltwater and freshwater, tending to prefer fairly shallow water with muddy or sandy bottoms such as rivers, streams, lakes, creeks, bays, lagoons, and estuaries. Although the smalltooth sawfish prefers depths of no more than 120 m, it will cross deep oceans to reach new areas of coastline (1) (2) (3) (4).
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Migration

Non-Migrant: No. All populations of this species make significant seasonal migrations.

Locally Migrant: No. No populations of this species make local extended movements (generally less than 200 km) at particular times of the year (e.g., to breeding or wintering grounds, to hibernation sites).

Locally Migrant: No. No populations of this species make annual migrations of over 200 km.

Along the U.S. Atlantic coast, adults may migrate northward with warming temperatures in spring and southward with cooling temperatures in fall (Bigelow and Schroeder 1953).

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Amphidromous. Refers to fishes that regularly migrate between freshwater and the sea (in both directions), but not for the purpose of breeding, as in anadromous and catadromous species. Sub-division of diadromous. Migrations should be cyclical and predictable and cover more than 100 km.Characteristic elements in amphidromy are: reproduction in fresh water, passage to sea by newly hatched larvae, a period of feeding and growing at sea usually a few months long, return to fresh water of well-grown juveniles, a further period of feeding and growing in fresh water, followed by reproduction there (Ref. 82692).
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Trophic Strategy

Smalltooth sawfishes feed on small schooling fishes such as mullet and herrings, typically using the rostrum to slash through schools, eating those fish wounded in the attack. Some have been observed feeding on crustaceans and other benthic organisms. In these cases, the rostrum is often used to stir up the benthos, startling prey (Bigelow and Schroeder 1953).Predators: Young Pristis pectinata may be vulnerable to attack by sharks, but there are no other known predators.Habitats: Smalltooth sawfishes generally inhabit inhabit shallow coastal waters of inshore bars and banks, mangrove creeks, seagrass beds, and river mouths, primarily over muddy or sandy bottoms. They occasionally enter freshwater. They are most commonly observed within 1 mile of land, at depths less than 10 m (32.8 feet) (NMFS 2000).Young Pristis pectinata are most often found on sallow sands and mud banks no deeper than 30 cm (11.8 inches). Larger juveniles are dependent on shallow inshore habitats near river mouths and estuaries where water depth averages approximately 2 m (6.6 feet). Adults can be found in waters of 100 m depths (Simpfendorfer 2005).
  • Adams, W.F. and C. Wilson. 1995. The status of the smalltooth sawfish, Pristis pectinata Latham 1794 (Pristiformes: Pristidae), in the United States. Chondros 6(4):1-5.
  • Bean, T.H. 1892. Observations upon fishes and fish culture. Bull. U.S. Fish. Comm. 10:49 - 61.
  • Bigelow, H.B. and W.C. Schroeder. 1953. Sawfishes, guitarfishes, skates and rays. Pp. 1 - 514 in: Tee-Van, J., C.M. Breder, A.E. Parr, W.C. Schroeder, and L.P. Schultz (eds.). Fishes of the Western North Atlantic, Part Two. Mem. Sear Found. Mar. Res. I.
  • Bigelow, H.B. and W.C. Schroeder. 1948. New genera and species of batoid fishes. J. Mar. Res. 543 - 566.
  • Breder, C.M. 1952. On the utility of the saw of the sawfish. Copeia 1952 (2):90 - 91.
  • Evermann, B.W. and B.A. Bean. 1892. The fishes of Texas and the Rio Grande Basin considered chiefly with reference to their geographical distribution.Bull. U.S. Fish. Comm. 12:57-126.
  • Gilmore, R.G. 1995. Environmental and biogeographic factors influencing ichtyofaunal diversity: Indian River Lagoon. Bull. Mar. Sci. 57(1):153-170.
  • Last, P.R. and J.D. Stevens. 1994. Sharks and Rays of Australia. CSIRO, Australia. 513 pp.
  • National Marine Fisheries Service. 2000. Status review of the smalltooth sawfish (Pristis pectinata).
  • Schmid, T.H., L.M. Ehrhardt, and F.F. Snelson. 1988. Notes on the occurrence of rays (Elasmobranchii, batoidea) in the Indian River Lagoon system, Florida. Fl. Sci. 51(2):121-128.
  • Simpfendorfer, C.A. 2005. Threatened fishes of the World: Pristis pectinata Latham, 1794 (Pristidae). Environmental Biology of Fishes (2005)73:20.
  • Simpfendorfer, C.A. 2000. Predicting population recovery rates for endangered Western Atlantic sawfishes using demographic analysis. EnvironmentalBiology of Fishes. 58:371-377.
  • Snelson, F.F. and S.E. Williams. 1981. Notes on the occurrence, distribution, and biology of elasmobranch fishes in the Indian River Lagoon system,Florida. Estuaries 4(2):110 - 120.
  • Stehmann, M. 1981. Pristidae. In: W. Fischer, G. Bianchi, and W.B. Scott (eds.) FAO species identification sheets for fishery purposes. Eastern Central Atlantic Fishing Areas 34, 47 (in part). Vol. 5.
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Population Biology

Pristis pectinata has historically been described as "common" or "abundant" in scientific research from the late 1800s through approximately 1950 (Jordan and Evermann 1896; Breder 1952). The range of this species has contracted more than 90% (NMFS 2000) as the population rapidly declined. It has been considered rare in Gulf of Mexico since the 1970s. Peninsular Florida may be the only geographic are to host smalltooth sawfish year round (NMFS 2000).
  • Adams, W.F. and C. Wilson. 1995. The status of the smalltooth sawfish, Pristis pectinata Latham 1794 (Pristiformes: Pristidae), in the United States. Chondros 6(4):1-5.
  • Bean, T.H. 1892. Observations upon fishes and fish culture. Bull. U.S. Fish. Comm. 10:49 - 61.
  • Bigelow, H.B. and W.C. Schroeder. 1953. Sawfishes, guitarfishes, skates and rays. Pp. 1 - 514 in: Tee-Van, J., C.M. Breder, A.E. Parr, W.C. Schroeder, and L.P. Schultz (eds.). Fishes of the Western North Atlantic, Part Two. Mem. Sear Found. Mar. Res. I.
  • Bigelow, H.B. and W.C. Schroeder. 1948. New genera and species of batoid fishes. J. Mar. Res. 543 - 566.
  • Breder, C.M. 1952. On the utility of the saw of the sawfish. Copeia 1952 (2):90 - 91.
  • Evermann, B.W. and B.A. Bean. 1892. The fishes of Texas and the Rio Grande Basin considered chiefly with reference to their geographical distribution.Bull. U.S. Fish. Comm. 12:57-126.
  • Gilmore, R.G. 1995. Environmental and biogeographic factors influencing ichtyofaunal diversity: Indian River Lagoon. Bull. Mar. Sci. 57(1):153-170.
  • Last, P.R. and J.D. Stevens. 1994. Sharks and Rays of Australia. CSIRO, Australia. 513 pp.
  • National Marine Fisheries Service. 2000. Status review of the smalltooth sawfish (Pristis pectinata).
  • Schmid, T.H., L.M. Ehrhardt, and F.F. Snelson. 1988. Notes on the occurrence of rays (Elasmobranchii, batoidea) in the Indian River Lagoon system, Florida. Fl. Sci. 51(2):121-128.
  • Simpfendorfer, C.A. 2005. Threatened fishes of the World: Pristis pectinata Latham, 1794 (Pristidae). Environmental Biology of Fishes (2005)73:20.
  • Simpfendorfer, C.A. 2000. Predicting population recovery rates for endangered Western Atlantic sawfishes using demographic analysis. EnvironmentalBiology of Fishes. 58:371-377.
  • Snelson, F.F. and S.E. Williams. 1981. Notes on the occurrence, distribution, and biology of elasmobranch fishes in the Indian River Lagoon system,Florida. Estuaries 4(2):110 - 120.
  • Stehmann, M. 1981. Pristidae. In: W. Fischer, G. Bianchi, and W.B. Scott (eds.) FAO species identification sheets for fishery purposes. Eastern Central Atlantic Fishing Areas 34, 47 (in part). Vol. 5.
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Life History and Behavior

Life Cycle

Ovoviviparous, with gravid females containing about 15-20 embryos (Ref. 3163). Embryos feed solely on yolk (Ref. 50449). Gives birth in shallow bays and estuaries (Ref. 12951). Size at birth 61 cm (Ref. 12951).
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Reproduction

Slow growing, late maturing, low fecundity.

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Smalltooth sawfishes are ovoviviparous and reproduce via internal fertilization as occurs in all elasmobranchs. Maturity is believed to occur at approximately 10 years of age. Males measure at approximately 2.7 m (8.9 feet) in length, while females measure approximately 3.6 m (11.8 feet) at maturity (Simpfendorfer 2005). There have been no comprehensive studies on age and growth parameters in smalltooth sawfishes, however, based on the biology of the closely related largetooth sawfish (Pristis perotteti), it is believed that P. pectinata is slow to grow and mature. This would suggest a low intrinsic rate of increase as well as low rebound potential (Smith et al 1998).Simpfendorfer (2000) modeled demography of the smalltooth sawfish and reported an intrinsic rate of increase ranging from 0.08 - 0.13 years, with a population doubling time of 5.4 - 8.5 years.
  • Adams, W.F. and C. Wilson. 1995. The status of the smalltooth sawfish, Pristis pectinata Latham 1794 (Pristiformes: Pristidae), in the United States. Chondros 6(4):1-5.
  • Bean, T.H. 1892. Observations upon fishes and fish culture. Bull. U.S. Fish. Comm. 10:49 - 61.
  • Bigelow, H.B. and W.C. Schroeder. 1953. Sawfishes, guitarfishes, skates and rays. Pp. 1 - 514 in: Tee-Van, J., C.M. Breder, A.E. Parr, W.C. Schroeder, and L.P. Schultz (eds.). Fishes of the Western North Atlantic, Part Two. Mem. Sear Found. Mar. Res. I.
  • Bigelow, H.B. and W.C. Schroeder. 1948. New genera and species of batoid fishes. J. Mar. Res. 543 - 566.
  • Breder, C.M. 1952. On the utility of the saw of the sawfish. Copeia 1952 (2):90 - 91.
  • Evermann, B.W. and B.A. Bean. 1892. The fishes of Texas and the Rio Grande Basin considered chiefly with reference to their geographical distribution.Bull. U.S. Fish. Comm. 12:57-126.
  • Gilmore, R.G. 1995. Environmental and biogeographic factors influencing ichtyofaunal diversity: Indian River Lagoon. Bull. Mar. Sci. 57(1):153-170.
  • Last, P.R. and J.D. Stevens. 1994. Sharks and Rays of Australia. CSIRO, Australia. 513 pp.
  • National Marine Fisheries Service. 2000. Status review of the smalltooth sawfish (Pristis pectinata).
  • Schmid, T.H., L.M. Ehrhardt, and F.F. Snelson. 1988. Notes on the occurrence of rays (Elasmobranchii, batoidea) in the Indian River Lagoon system, Florida. Fl. Sci. 51(2):121-128.
  • Simpfendorfer, C.A. 2005. Threatened fishes of the World: Pristis pectinata Latham, 1794 (Pristidae). Environmental Biology of Fishes (2005)73:20.
  • Simpfendorfer, C.A. 2000. Predicting population recovery rates for endangered Western Atlantic sawfishes using demographic analysis. EnvironmentalBiology of Fishes. 58:371-377.
  • Snelson, F.F. and S.E. Williams. 1981. Notes on the occurrence, distribution, and biology of elasmobranch fishes in the Indian River Lagoon system,Florida. Estuaries 4(2):110 - 120.
  • Stehmann, M. 1981. Pristidae. In: W. Fischer, G. Bianchi, and W.B. Scott (eds.) FAO species identification sheets for fishery purposes. Eastern Central Atlantic Fishing Areas 34, 47 (in part). Vol. 5.
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Growth

Females may carry 15 - 20 embryos (Bigelow and Schroeder 1953). Yolk sac embryos resemble adults relative to position of the fins and lack of a defined lower caudal lobe. During development, the rostrum is soft and flexible, with rostral teeth remaining entirely enclosed in a sheath of tissue until shortly after birth (NMFS 2000). In Florida, young are born late winter and spring and measure approximately 60 - 80 cm at birth (Simpfendorfer 2005). The sheath of tissue covering the rostrum disappears shortly after birth so young can feed and defend themselves.No records exist for gestation period for smalltooth sawfishes, however, in largetooth sawfish, gestation lasts approximately 5 months, with females producing litters approximately every other year (MNFS 2000).
  • Adams, W.F. and C. Wilson. 1995. The status of the smalltooth sawfish, Pristis pectinata Latham 1794 (Pristiformes: Pristidae), in the United States. Chondros 6(4):1-5.
  • Bean, T.H. 1892. Observations upon fishes and fish culture. Bull. U.S. Fish. Comm. 10:49 - 61.
  • Bigelow, H.B. and W.C. Schroeder. 1953. Sawfishes, guitarfishes, skates and rays. Pp. 1 - 514 in: Tee-Van, J., C.M. Breder, A.E. Parr, W.C. Schroeder, and L.P. Schultz (eds.). Fishes of the Western North Atlantic, Part Two. Mem. Sear Found. Mar. Res. I.
  • Bigelow, H.B. and W.C. Schroeder. 1948. New genera and species of batoid fishes. J. Mar. Res. 543 - 566.
  • Breder, C.M. 1952. On the utility of the saw of the sawfish. Copeia 1952 (2):90 - 91.
  • Evermann, B.W. and B.A. Bean. 1892. The fishes of Texas and the Rio Grande Basin considered chiefly with reference to their geographical distribution.Bull. U.S. Fish. Comm. 12:57-126.
  • Gilmore, R.G. 1995. Environmental and biogeographic factors influencing ichtyofaunal diversity: Indian River Lagoon. Bull. Mar. Sci. 57(1):153-170.
  • Last, P.R. and J.D. Stevens. 1994. Sharks and Rays of Australia. CSIRO, Australia. 513 pp.
  • National Marine Fisheries Service. 2000. Status review of the smalltooth sawfish (Pristis pectinata).
  • Schmid, T.H., L.M. Ehrhardt, and F.F. Snelson. 1988. Notes on the occurrence of rays (Elasmobranchii, batoidea) in the Indian River Lagoon system, Florida. Fl. Sci. 51(2):121-128.
  • Simpfendorfer, C.A. 2005. Threatened fishes of the World: Pristis pectinata Latham, 1794 (Pristidae). Environmental Biology of Fishes (2005)73:20.
  • Simpfendorfer, C.A. 2000. Predicting population recovery rates for endangered Western Atlantic sawfishes using demographic analysis. EnvironmentalBiology of Fishes. 58:371-377.
  • Snelson, F.F. and S.E. Williams. 1981. Notes on the occurrence, distribution, and biology of elasmobranch fishes in the Indian River Lagoon system,Florida. Estuaries 4(2):110 - 120.
  • Stehmann, M. 1981. Pristidae. In: W. Fischer, G. Bianchi, and W.B. Scott (eds.) FAO species identification sheets for fishery purposes. Eastern Central Atlantic Fishing Areas 34, 47 (in part). Vol. 5.
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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Statistics of barcoding coverage: Pristis pectinata

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 0
Specimens with Barcodes: 42
Species With Barcodes: 1
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Conservation

Conservation Status

National NatureServe Conservation Status

United States

Rounded National Status Rank: NNR - Unranked

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NatureServe Conservation Status

Rounded Global Status Rank: G2 - Imperiled

Reasons: Widespread in the Atlantic Ocean, distribution elsewhere is uncertain; historically ranged in the western Atlantic Ocean from North Carolina (rarely New York), Bermuda, and the northern Gulf of Mexico to Brazil; now rare in the U.S., though this population appears to be the largest in the western Atlantic; vulnerable to overexploitation due to high propensity for entanglement in net gear, restricted habitat, and low intrinsic rate of increase; available evidence indicates a large decline in North America, likely due mainly to incidental commercial catch but habitat degradation probably also is involved; current range-wide status is poorly documented, hence the rank of G1G3 (species definitely warrants conservation concern, and perhaps is critically imperiled rangewide).

Intrinsic Vulnerability: Highly vulnerable

Comments: Based on the low intrinsic rate of increase, resulting from their slow growth, late maturation, and low
fecundity, population recovery potential for the species is limited.

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IUCN Red List Assessment


Red List Category
CR
Critically Endangered

Red List Criteria
A2cd

Version
3.1

Year Assessed
2013

Assessor/s
Carlson, J., Wiley, T. & Smith, K.

Reviewer/s
Castro, J. & Böhm, M.

Contributor/s

Justification
The Smalltooth Sawfish (Pristis pectinata) has been wholly or nearly extirpated from large areas of its former range in the Atlantic Ocean by fishing (trawl and inshore netting) and habitat modification. Negative records from scientific surveys, anecdotal fisher observations, and fish landings data over its historic range infer a population reduction of ≥95% over a period of three generations (i.e., 1962 to present). The remaining populations are now small, and fragmented. The species can only be reliably encountered in the Bahamas (where suitable habitat is available) and the United States (Georgia south to Louisiana). It is rare but present in Honduras, Belize, Cuba, Sierra Leone, and possibly Guinea-Bissau and Mauritania. Threats to Smalltooth Sawfish still exist today in areas where sawfish are unprotected and habitat modification (mangrove removal) and inshore netting still occurs.

History
  • 2006
    Critically Endangered
  • 2000
    Endangered
  • 1996
    Endangered
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Current Listing Status Summary

Status: Endangered
Date Listed: 11/16/2005
Lead Region:   National Marine Fisheries Service (Region 11) 
Where Listed: Gulf of Mexico from Texas to Florida and along the east coast from Florida to Cape Hatteras


Population detail:

Population location: Gulf of Mexico from Texas to Florida and along the east coast from Florida to Cape Hatteras
Listing status: E

For most current information and documents related to the conservation status and management of Pristis pectinata , see its USFWS Species Profile

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Status

The smalltooth sawfish is classified as Critically Endangered (CR) on the IUCN Red List and as Endangered under the United States National Marine Fisheries Service (2).
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Global Short Term Trend: Decline of 30 to >90%

Comments: Anecdotal evidence, negative scientific survey data, and catch records indicate a dramatic decline in recent decades in North America (NMFS 2000, 2001, 2003). Population in Everglades National Park may have been stable in the 1990s (Simpfendorfer 2002).

Global Long Term Trend: Decline of >90%

Comments: Regarded as common in inshore waters of the Gulf of Mexico and western North Atlantic in the late 1800s and early 1900s (see Simpfendorfer 2002). Wholly or nearly extirpated from large areas of the former range in the North Atlantic (Mediterranean, U.S. Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico) and the southwestern Atlantic; status elsewhere is uncertain but likely similarly reduced (NMFS 2001). Abundance in the United States likely is less than 5% of historical level (Simpfendorfer 2002).

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Population

Population
At the end of the 19th century the Smalltooth Sawfish was common in inshore waters of the western North Atlantic (e.g., Goode 1884, Henshall 1895, Jordan and Evermann 1896, Bigelow and Schroeder 1953). In the United States, the Smalltooth Sawfish population appears to have declined dramatically during the middle and later parts of the 20th century (Simpfendorfer 2002). Based on the contraction of the range and declines in landings, it is likely that the US population size is currently less than 5% of its size at the time of European settlement (Simpfendorfer 2002). However, the population of Smalltooth Sawfish may have stabilised in the United States. Based on genetic sampling, estimates of the current effective population size range of the US population of Smalltooth Sawfish were from 269.6–504.9 individuals (95% Confidence Interval 139.3–1,515) (Chapman et al. 2011).Carlson and Osborne (2012) reported the relative abundance of sawfish increased at an average rate of about 3–5% per year since 1989 based on of voluntary dockside interviews of sport fishers in the US. Despite a low population size in the US, the Smalltooth Sawfish population will probably retain >90% of its current genetic diversity over the next century (Chapman et al. 2011).

In the Western Atlantic, no data on population size or trends in abundance exist outside of US waters, and the only information on trends in the population can be inferred from anecdotal capture records. While early records of this species include most countries throughout Central and South America, records and reports indicate Smalltooth Sawfish can now only be reliably encountered in the Bahamas (where suitable habitat is available), Honduras, Belize, and Cuba.

There are no data on population size for the Eastern Atlantic and the only information on trends in the population can be inferred from anecdotal capture records. Smalltooth Sawfish were once common in western African waters, but today records are sparse. Early records of this species include most countries from Angola to Mauritania. Specific records on length and sex of individuals come from Cameroon, the Republic of the Congo, Mauritania, Senegal, Gambia and Guinea-Bissau (Faria et al. 2013). However, there has been only one confirmed record for the region in the last 10 years (Sierra Leone in 2003). There are unconfirmed records (Pristis sp.) from only two other countries (Guinea-Bissau in 2011, and Mauritania 2010). It is likely that areas around Guinea-Bissau represent the last areas where sawfish can be found in western Africa (M. Diop pers. comm. 2012).

Population Trend
Decreasing
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Threats

Degree of Threat: Very high - high

Comments: Commercial bycatch played the primary role in the decline of this DPS. Quantitative data are limited but indicate that smalltooth sawfish have been taken by commercial fishermen and that this species has experienced severe declines in its abundance (NMFS 2003). Recreational harvest also may have had a significant impact (Simpfendorfer 2002) but is not now a significant threat (NMFS 2003).

Loss and degradation of habitat is judged to have impacted the distribution and abundance of smalltooth sawfish. The
continued urbanization of the southeastern coastal states has resulted in substantial loss of coastal habitat through such activities as agricultural and urban development, commercial activities, dredge and fill operations, boating, erosion, and diversions of freshwater run-off. Animal wastes and fertilizers from agricultural runoff contribute large amounts of non-point source nutrient loading and introduce a wide range of toxic chemicals into habitats important to smalltooth
sawfish. The rate of urban development in the southeast coastal zone is more than four times the national average,
destroying or degrading significant amounts of coastal and estuarine habitat. Commercial activities in the southeast eliminate or degrade substantial amounts of marine and estuarine fish habitat, although the exact amount is unknown. An analysis of 18 major southeastern estuaries recorded over 703 miles (1,131 km) of navigation channels and 9,844 miles (15,842 km) of shoreline modifications. Profound impacts to hydrological regimes have been produced in South Florida throughthe construction of a 1,400-mile (2,253- km) network of canals, levees, locks, and other water control structures that modulate freshwater flow from Lake Okeechobee, the Everglades, and other coastal areas. Potential detrimental impacts from the activities listed above on habitat of the U.S. DPS of smalltooth sawfish include: (1) loss of wetlands, (2) eutrophication, (3) point and non-point sources of pollution, (4) increased sedimentation and turbidity, and (5) hydrologic modifications. Smalltooth sawfish may be especially vulnerable to coastal habitat degradation due to their affinity for shallow, estuarine systems. The cumulative impacts from habitat degradation discussed above may
reduce habitat quality and limit habitat quantity available to the species. Given current low levels of abundance, and its
current retracted range, efforts need to be undertaken to better understand, avoid, minimize and mitigate these factors. [from NMFS 2003]

The scope, severity, and immediacy values refer to overexploitation (commercial bycatch) of the U.S. distinct population segment.

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Major Threats
The principal threats to Smalltooth Sawfish are from fishing; it was formerly targeted, but is now mostly taken incidentally in broad-spectrum fisheries (CITES 2007). The long toothed rostrum of sawfish makes them extremely vulnerable to entanglement in any sort of net gear, gillnetting and trawling in particular. Depleted populations mean that commercial targeting of most stocks is no longer cost-effective and bycatch mortality is now the primary threat to Smalltooth Sawfish (CITES 2007). However, there are indications that sawfish are at times targeted opportunistically for the shark fin trade (CITES 2007). There have been some large-scale fisheries targeting the species, including in the southeastern US in the 19th and early 20th centuries, and possibly in Brazil from the 1960s to 1980s (CITES 2007).

In West Africa, shark fishing increased significantly in the past several decades and ‘the intensive exploitation of sharks over the past thirty years has completely decimated the most vulnerable populations…’ (Diop and Dossa 2011). The disappearance of sawfish in the region was thought to have begun in the 1970s when new fishers entered the region and new fishing gear was developed (Diop and Dossa 2011). Threats are ongoing in the region and given that many areas still have artisanal gillnet fisheries with little or no regulation, it is likely the population will continue to decline.

Habitat degradation and loss also threaten sawfishes throughout their range (CITES 2007). The Smalltooth Sawfish relies on a variety of specific habitat types including estuaries and mangroves; these are all affected by human development (CITES 2007). Agricultural and urban development, commercial activities, dredge-and-fill operations, boating, erosion, and diversions of freshwater runoff as a result of continued coastal and catchment development has caused substantial loss or modification of these habitats (CITES 2007).
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Critically Endangered (CR) (A2bcd+3cd+4bcd)
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The smalltooth sawfish has been over-fished both intentionally and as by-catch. Accidentally caught sawfish are rarely returned to the water alive as they are difficult to disentangle from nets and are dangerous to fishermen. Sawfish are purposefully caught for sport, for food and for their oil, which is used to make soap, medicine and for polishing leather, as well as for their saws which are removed and sold as curios. Habitat modification is also contributing to the decline of this species, which is slow to recover from population crashes due to slow maturation and a long reproductive cycle (1) (2) (3).
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Management

Management Requirements: Corridors of suitable habitat needed to be provided between exisiting populations and areas where reestablishment of populations might be possible; mortality in commercial fisheries should be reduced (Simpfendorfer 2002).

Management Research Needs: Information is needed on current abundance and distribution, trends, life history, essential habitat and habitat use (especially of altered habitats), movements, ecological role, and sources of fisheries mortality (Simpfendorfer 2002).

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Conservation Actions

Conservation Actions
All species of sawfish are listed on Appendix I of the Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species (CITES), which effectively bans commercial international trade in sawfish or their parts.

National protections for Smalltooth Sawfish have been adopted in the United States. Smalltooth Sawfish were listed as Endangered under the Endangered Species Act in 2003 which makes it illegal to harass, harm, pursue, hunt, shoot, wound, kill, trap, capture, or collect or to attempt to engage in any such conduct with Smalltooth Sawfish. ‘Critical Habitat’ has also been established for juvenile Smalltooth Sawfish in the US (NMFS 2009, Norton et al. 2012), which is a key conservation objective, designed to facilitate recruitment into the adult sawfish population by protecting juvenile nursery areas.

Outside US waters, Nicaragua imposed a permanent ban on targeted sawfish fishing in Lake Nicaragua. In Brazil, the Smalltooth Sawfish is protected (no take) by the Ministry of Environment and in Mexico the take of all sawfishes is banned. Sawfish are protected in the Exclusive Economic Zone in Guinea and Senegal and in Marine Protected Areas in Mauritania and Guinea-Bissau (S.V. Fordham pers. comm.).
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Conservation

Florida has established three wildlife refuges to protect the habitat of the smalltooth sawfish and in the hope that numbers might increase sufficiently for re-colonisation of other areas (3). It has been protected from harvesting in Florida since 1992 and over the rest of American waters since 2003 (5). Research into smalltooth sawfish life-history and population distribution, as well as education and awareness initiatives, may help to prevent further decline of this species, but these efforts must be made worldwide to ensure the protection of this amazing fish (6).
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Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems

Benefits

Importance

fisheries: minor commercial; gamefish: yes; price category: medium; price reliability: very questionable: based on ex-vessel price for species in this family
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Pristis pectinata, has been listed Federally as an Endangered species since April 1, 2003, and was the first elasmobranch to be listed under the Endangered Species Act of 1973. It has been listed by the State of Florida as Endangered since April, 1992. The National Marine Fisheries Service (NOAA Fisheries) is the lead agency responsible for imperiled marine organisms.In the early 1900s large numbers of sawfishes were captured and killed by recreational fishers, who removed the rostra of sawfishes as trophies. Pristis pectinata has never been commercially important, but large numbers of them were incidentally captured in commercial fisheries operations due to the ease with which their rostra became entangled in lines and nets. This is likely the primary cause of the rapid decline observed in the overall population, though habitat loss and degradation as well as pollution effects also played significant roles (NMFS 2000). Current threats to smalltooth sawfishes include: habitat degradation and loss of wetland habitat, eutrophication of coastal waters, point and non-point sources of pollution, increased sedimentation and turbidity, and hydrologic modification for human uses (NMFS 2000). Current conservation efforts are confined to monitoring activities, life history research, raising public awareness, and possession prohibition. A management and recovery plan is under development (Simpfendorfer 2005).
  • Adams, W.F. and C. Wilson. 1995. The status of the smalltooth sawfish, Pristis pectinata Latham 1794 (Pristiformes: Pristidae), in the United States. Chondros 6(4):1-5.
  • Bean, T.H. 1892. Observations upon fishes and fish culture. Bull. U.S. Fish. Comm. 10:49 - 61.
  • Bigelow, H.B. and W.C. Schroeder. 1953. Sawfishes, guitarfishes, skates and rays. Pp. 1 - 514 in: Tee-Van, J., C.M. Breder, A.E. Parr, W.C. Schroeder, and L.P. Schultz (eds.). Fishes of the Western North Atlantic, Part Two. Mem. Sear Found. Mar. Res. I.
  • Bigelow, H.B. and W.C. Schroeder. 1948. New genera and species of batoid fishes. J. Mar. Res. 543 - 566.
  • Breder, C.M. 1952. On the utility of the saw of the sawfish. Copeia 1952 (2):90 - 91.
  • Evermann, B.W. and B.A. Bean. 1892. The fishes of Texas and the Rio Grande Basin considered chiefly with reference to their geographical distribution.Bull. U.S. Fish. Comm. 12:57-126.
  • Gilmore, R.G. 1995. Environmental and biogeographic factors influencing ichtyofaunal diversity: Indian River Lagoon. Bull. Mar. Sci. 57(1):153-170.
  • Last, P.R. and J.D. Stevens. 1994. Sharks and Rays of Australia. CSIRO, Australia. 513 pp.
  • National Marine Fisheries Service. 2000. Status review of the smalltooth sawfish (Pristis pectinata).
  • Schmid, T.H., L.M. Ehrhardt, and F.F. Snelson. 1988. Notes on the occurrence of rays (Elasmobranchii, batoidea) in the Indian River Lagoon system, Florida. Fl. Sci. 51(2):121-128.
  • Simpfendorfer, C.A. 2005. Threatened fishes of the World: Pristis pectinata Latham, 1794 (Pristidae). Environmental Biology of Fishes (2005)73:20.
  • Simpfendorfer, C.A. 2000. Predicting population recovery rates for endangered Western Atlantic sawfishes using demographic analysis. EnvironmentalBiology of Fishes. 58:371-377.
  • Snelson, F.F. and S.E. Williams. 1981. Notes on the occurrence, distribution, and biology of elasmobranch fishes in the Indian River Lagoon system,Florida. Estuaries 4(2):110 - 120.
  • Stehmann, M. 1981. Pristidae. In: W. Fischer, G. Bianchi, and W.B. Scott (eds.) FAO species identification sheets for fishery purposes. Eastern Central Atlantic Fishing Areas 34, 47 (in part). Vol. 5.
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Wikipedia

Smalltooth sawfish

The smalltooth sawfish (Pristis pectinata), also known as the wide sawfish, is a sawfish of the family Pristidae. It is found in shallow tropical and subtropical waters in coastal parts of the Atlantic, including the Mediterranean. Reports from elsewhere are now believed to be misidentifications of other species of sawfish.[1] This critically endangered species[1] reaches a length of up to 7.6 metres (25 ft).[2]

Function of the saw[edit]

For feeding[edit]

For many years, rarity of seeing a sawfish in the wild prevented scientists from collecting conclusive evidence about the use of their distinctive rostrum. This led them to falsely assume that the sawfish, like many other marine vertebrates with a “beak,” or an elongated rostrum, follow the rule that the appendage is used to either sense prey or capture prey, but never both. There are no other highly studied marine animals with similar rostral characteristics that have shown that the rostrum is used for both of these feeding techniques. Recent studies have demonstrated, however, that the sawfish utilize their rostrum to both sense and manipulate prey.[3]

A sawfish’s saw is made up of thousands of sensory organs that allow them to detect and monitor the movements of other organisms by measuring the electrical fields they emit.[4] The sensory organs, also called ampullary pores, are packed most densely on the dorsal side of its beak. This allows the fish to create an image of the three-dimensional area above it, even in waters of low-visibility.[3] This provides support for the bottom-dwelling behavior of sawfish. Utilizing their saw as an extended sensing device, sawfish are able to “view” their entire surroundings by maintaining a position low to the sea floor.[5]

Sawfish uncover sand dwelling crustaceans and mollusks, two common prey types, by using their unique anatomical structure as a tool for digging and grubbing about in sand or mud.[6] The sawfish churn up the sea bottom with their exaggerated rostrum to uncover these hidden food sources.[6]

Sawfish-plate.jpg

It is believed that the elongated rostrum first evolved for its use in prey immobilization.[5] Smalltooth sawfish have been observed to approach large shoals of fish while striking their saw rapidly from side to side. Due to the high density of small fish in a shoal, there is a high probability that the sawfish will hit, stab, stun, or kill several prey during one shoal attack.[7] The sawfish has also been observed to attack larger prey by using their weapon to dislodge large pieces of meat from victims. They then use their serrated saw teeth to tear through flesh.[6]

Vertebrate biologist Barbara Wueringer, of the University of Queensland, demonstrated that sawfish use their extended rostrum to detect and manipulate prey. She observed that the animals’ reaction to food already at the bottom of the tank, food falling from the water's surface, and introduced electric dipoles.[3] When the sawfish came across scraps of fish resting on the bottom of the tank, it used its rostrum to pin the “prey” down as it swam over and engulfed it. When food was identified as it fell through the water, the sawfish would approach its “prey” from the side and swiftly strike to impale the victim with the teeth of its saw.[6] Both of these cases support the respective digging and attacking behaviors expected from feeding sawfish in the wild. In order to show that sawfish use their beak to sense their surroundings, Wueringer placed electric dipoles throughout the tank to simulate the electrical signals that surround moving prey.[8] Just as the sawfish displayed different aggressive behaviors towards the “prey,” they also responded differently based on the electrical signals they received by either avoiding or approaching the signal source. With this evidence, the sawfish is now regarded as the only jawed fish to use its rostrum for both prey detection and manipulation.[3]

For defense[edit]

The many teeth of a sawfish’s saw are not actually teeth at all, but rather special types of scales known a dermal denticles.[9] These protruding weapons, combined with the animal’s ability to strike from side to side with great force, provide it with a powerful and efficient defense mechanism.[6] Although the saw is mainly used for feeding purposes, observations of sawfish in captivity sow that they may also be used for self-defense. [7] When sharks or other marine creatures threaten them, they retaliate with three swift blows to the instigator’s dorsum. Sawfish are not considered harmful to humans unless they are threatened.[7]

Reproductive behavior[edit]

The reproductive behavior of smalltooth sawfish has not been well studied, despite their classification as a critically endangered species and the dire need for captivity breeding to return the population to its ideal size.[10] Nevertheless, much can be inferred based on information known about the reproductive behavior of other elasmobranchs. Observations show that smalltooth sawfish may participate in precopulatory behavior in captivity.[11] Much of this activity involves the biting of pectoral fins known as “courtship biting.” [12] There is a sexual dimorphism in the teeth of smalltooth sawfish, with males presenting a higher mean value for both left and right rostral tooth counts.[13] The electrosensory system is believed to be used in the courtship behavior of sawfish and other elasmobranchs.[12] Reproductively active males use the sensory organs in their saw to locate females and vice versa.[12] Once a mate has been selected, several copulations occur during which the male inserts his claspers, which are paired intromittent organs, into the female’s vagina. The claspers contain subdermal siphon sacs that provide the propulsive power for sperm transfer. It is also possible that the siphon sacs assist with sawfish sperm competition by washing away rival sperm from the female’s vagina before copulations.[12]

Like mammals, elasmobranchs are ovoviparous, have relatively long gestation periods, and internal fertilization.[12] The sawfish eggs hatch in the uterus and the young continue to grow without a placental connection to the mother.[10] The fetal sawfish receives nourishment from a yolk sac and absorbs all the nutrients it can from the yolk before it is born. Litters have been reported of up to 20 pups and the reproductive cycle is believed to be every two years. After sex, mating pairs separate without forming a pair bond and each continues polygamous matings.[12]

Conservation status[edit]

Smalltooth sawfish are extremely vulnerable to overexploitation because of their propensity for entanglement in nets, their restricted habitat, and low rate of population growth. The species is listed as critically endangered by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature Red List. The United States population was listed by the National Marine Fisheries Service as endangered under the Endangered Species Act in 2003. The species is listed on Appendix I of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Carlson, J., Wiley, T. & Smith, K. (2013). "Pristis pectinata". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.1. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 26 August 2013. 
  2. ^ Froese, Rainer and Pauly, Daniel, eds. (2006). "Pristis pectinata" in FishBase. April 2006 version.
  3. ^ a b c d Crew, Becky. Zombie birds, astronaut fish, and other weird animals. Avon, Mass.: Adams Media. ISBN 9781440560262. 
  4. ^ Wueringer, B.E.; Peverell, S.C.; Seymour, J.; Squire, Jr., L.; Kajiura, S.M.; Collin, S.P. (1 January 2011). "Sensory Systems in Sawfishes. 1. The Ampullae of Lorenzini". Brain, Behavior and Evolution 78 (2): 139–149. doi:10.1159/000329515. 
  5. ^ a b Barbara E. Wueringer, Lyle Squire Jr., Shaun P. Collin (2009). "The biology of extinct and extant sawfish (Batoidea: Sclerorhynchidae and Pristidae)". Reviews in Fish Biology and Fisheries 19 (4). Retrieved 3 October 2013. 
  6. ^ a b c d e Breder, C.M. (1952). "On the Utility of the Saw of the Sawfish". American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists (ASIH) 2. Retrieved 3 October 2013. 
  7. ^ a b c Scott, Micheal (2005). Reef Sharks & Rays of the World. Prostar Pubns. ISBN 1577855388. 
  8. ^ Wueringer, Barbara E.; Squire, Lyle; Kajiura, Stephen M.; Hart, Nathan S.; Collin, Shaun P. (1 March 2012). "The function of the sawfish's saw". Current Biology 22 (5): R150–R151. doi:10.1016/j.cub.2012.01.055. 
  9. ^ Bob H. Slaghter and Stewart Springer (1968). "Replacement of Rostral Teeth in Sawfishes and Sawsharks". American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists (ASIH) 3: 449–506. Retrieved 4 October 2013. 
  10. ^ a b Alan D. Henningsen, MALCOLM J. SMALE, IAN GORDON, (2001). "Captive Breeding and Sexual Conflict in Elasmobranchs". Elasmobranch Husbandry Manual: Proceedings of the First International Elasmobranch Husbandry Symposium. Retrieved 4 October 2013. 
  11. ^ Smith, M.; Warmolts, D; Thoney, D. & Hueter, R., ed. (2004). The elasmobranch husbandry manual : captive care of sharks, rays and their relatives. Columbus, Ohio: Ohio Biological Survey. ISBN 0-86727-152-3. 
  12. ^ a b c d e f Harold L. Pratt, Jr.a & Jeffrey C. Carrierb (2001). "A review of elasmobranch reproductive behavior with a case study on the nurse shark, Ginglymostoma cirratum". Environmental Biology of Fishes. Retrieved 4 October 2013. 
  13. ^ TONYA R. WILEY1 , COLIN A. SIMPFENDORFER1, 2, VICENTE V. FARIA3,4 & MATTHEW T. MCDAVITT5 (2008). "Range, sexual dimorphism and bilateral asymmetry of rostral tooth counts in the smalltooth sawfish Pristis pectinata Latham (Chondrichthyes: Pristidae) of the southeastern United States". Zootaxa. Retrieved 4 October 2013. 
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Names and Taxonomy

Taxonomy

Comments: Based on international differences in control of exploitation and regulatory mechanisms, the U.S. population meets the discreteness requirements for a "species" under the U.S. Endangered Species Act (NMFS 2001). The U.S. population also qualifies for consideration under the U.S. ESA because it is the northernmost population in the western Hemisphere and is not known to be in contact with other populations.

Faria et al. (2013) used mtDNA and contemporary genetic analysis to argue that the previously classified P. pristis, P. microdon, and P. perotteti should be regarded as a single species (P. pristis).

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