click for info on pic SAWFISH Home Page

They are a tropical rays, related to sharks,
and are found in Australian estuaries (ie river mouths where the saltwater mixes with fresh) and freshwater rivers/creeks.

DESCRIPTION
They have a flattened body with a prominent long flat "toothy" snout
Hence they are sometimes referred to as "Sharks with Swords"
Its shark-like tail propels it through the water with graceful undulations, and the flattened body and head indicates a bottom dwelling fish.
The sharp awl-like teeth are not true teeth at all; they are really modified scales, but the jaws are lined with a pavement of thousands of tiny dome-shaped teeth.

Parts of a Sawfish - link to (Sharks with Swords website)

As with other rays, the mouth, Nares (nostrils), & gill slits are located on the flat undersurface.
Colour wise they differ depending on species and location but the upper surface is dark to blend in with the muddy seafloor; the underside is white, to blend in with the water surface when seen from below. Underside of a Sawfish - Link to (Sharks with Swords website)
Females give birth to live young which have a "soft" saw
Sawfishes eat only small fish and bottom-dwelling invertebrates, like crabs and shrimps, which can be crushed and swallowed whole through the mouth.
These flattened shark-like rays, born about 0.65m reach lengths of over 6.6m!
The freshwater species is Australia's largest freshwater fish.

LOCATION
There are 8 species world wide of which 5 can be found in Australian waters
All species travel between salt and freshwater at will.
They inhabit many rivers, creeks, and bays in QLD, NT, and WA and are common on the mudflats of Carpentaria and Arnhem Bay
click for info on pic

HABITAT
They are slow and docile, preferring to rest over muddy bottoms in shallow water around river mouths and freshwater systems.
The water they live in is very muddy, so they cannot see well, so reply on their sensitive snouts for information (see below)

SNOUT
Saw - link to (Sharks with Swords website They use the long flat toothy snout in four ways:
1) the snout houses electroreceptors which senses the heartbeats of buried prey like prawns, crabs, and other invertebrates.
2)The snout is also motion sensitive, so they can track and slash at swimming fish in the murky water.
3) With buried prey, the snout becomes a rake;
4) with fishes, a slashing tool to disable fast moving prey.

AUSTRALIAN SPECIES
click for info on pic Australia has the most species of any other country having 5 of the 8 species found world wide

1. Freshwater Sawfish (Pristis microdon ) inhabits rivers, lakes, creeks, and travels into brackish water. Have been located up to 100km inland. Biggest Freshwater fish in Australia (See Pic)

2. Green Sawfish (Pristis zijron) prefers muddy bays and estuaries and this huge ray is the most common sawfish found in Australian waters

3. Queensland Sawfish (Pristis clavata) sometimes called a "Dwarf Sawfish" prefers muddy bays and estuaries along the northern coast and only grows to approx. 140 cm

4. Smalltooth Sawfish (Pristis pectinata) sometimes called a "Wide Sawfish" prefers muddy bays and estuaries Bluish grey to Olive green in top colour

5. Knifetooth Sawfish (Anoxypristis cuspidata) sometimes called a "Narrow Sawfish" prefers muddy bays and estuaries and is normally grey in top colour

ENDANGERED
Sawfish - link to Geo-Images website All sawfishes are endangered now due to massive accidental capture in Nets (Gill nets and Trawling nets), as the sawfish probe through the sediment for food
Their toothy saw prevents escape from any net once entangled.
Heavy trading in their "toothy saw" both as a souvenir and as a medicine also contributed to their international decline

THANKS
A huge thanks to Matthew McDavitt for being my main source of information

LINKS
Sawfish Conservation Biology Project
General information from the Encyclopaedia Britanica


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