SMALLTOOTH SAWFISH

Pristis pectinata
Family: Pristidae

Description: Brown- to light sand-colored body. The most distinguishing feature of a smalltooth sawfish is its long blade-like rostrum with anywhere between 24-32 pairs of teeth on the sides. First dorsal and second dorsal fin of similar shape and size. First dorsal located above pelvic fins. No ventral lobe on caudal fin.

Distribution and Habitat: Distributed in tropical and subtropical waters of the western Atlantic and certain areas along the coast of the eastern Atlantic. Habitat range is expected to have decreased over time as the species population declined. Found in coastal and estuarine waters, usually around inshore mangrove and seagrass habitats. Occur at depths 0.1-88 meters; smaller individuals will spend more time at shallower depths and descend as they grow larger.

Size: Maximum recorded size is 760 cm total length, although a recent study in the Atlantic reported a maximum size of about 500 cm total length. Size at birth estimated at 64-81 cm total length.

Reproduction: Lecithotrophic viviparous. Litter size of 7-14 pups born biennially after a 12 month gestation period. Females have been observed to reach sexual maturity at 370 cm total length; males mature at 340 cm total length.

LIfe Span: Maximum age estimated at 30 years.

Diet: Bony fish, crustaceans and other marine invertebrates.

Status: Critically Endangered as of May 2012.

Human Pressures: Smalltooth sawfish currently face threats associated with bycatch from various fisheries. Although they are no longer a legally targeted species in the USA, their rostrum and large size make them highly susceptible to entanglement in fishing gear, primarily net-based gear. Habitat degradation of mangroves and seagrass beds compound the threats to their population decline.

SMALLTOOTH SAWFISH