Today (17th October) is the very first #IntlSawfishDay !
International Sawfish Day is an event created in partnership with the Sawfish Conservation Society, the European and American Associations of Zoos and Aquariums who want to raise awareness for Sawfishes.
The aim is to educate people on the threats they face as well as developing conservation strategies that will protect them.
Sawfish are large, shark-like rays of warm, shallow, coastal waters, estuaries, and rivers. Their tooth-studded snouts (rostra), which are easily entangled in fishing gear, and their low reproductive rates make them exceptionally susceptible to overfishing. Sawfish are also threatened by degradation of habitats such as mangroves. There are only five species of Sawfish in the world – the Knifetooth Sawfish (Anoxypristis cuspidata) and Dwarf Sawfish (Pristis clavata) are classified in the IUCN Red List as Endangered, while the Smalltooth Sawfish (Pristis pectinata), Largetooth Sawfish (Pristis pristis) and Green Sawfish (Pristis zijsron) are Critically Endangered. They are considered the most threatened elasmobranchs (sharks and rays) in the world due to destructive fishing practises, habitat destruction and the curio trade.
The various Sawfish species range from 1.4 metres to 7.5 metres in length, making them true #megafish . They can be found in inshore coastal areas such as coastal lagoons, estuarine environments, and brackish river deltas, although they may also swim up rivers into freshwater environments. Sawfishes prefer shallow, muddy, brackish water, spending most of their time on or near the seabed. The rostrum contains extensive sensory organs that can detect the minute electrical signals from prey. It is used to ‘club’ fish - stunning or killing them before they are eaten.
Three species of Sawfish were historically recorded in Singapore waters - the Knifetooth, Largetooth, and Green Sawfishes. However, they are now extremely rare, if not already locally extinct; the last record was in 2001. Sadly, Sawfishes have already disappeared from most of the areas where they were once found, and more needs to be done to protect the few surviving populations around the world.