15/09/2023

Sawfish on the brink of ᴇxᴛɪɴᴄᴛɪᴏɴ, gone in over half its natural habitats

Sawfish on the brink of ᴇxᴛɪɴᴄᴛɪᴏɴ, gone in over half its natural habitats

 There are lots of unique, wild-looking fish living under the sea — and the sawfish is definitely one of them! But if we don’t act now to save the positively prehistoric ocean- and freshwater-dwellers, future generations may never catch glimpses of the “hedge trimmers with fins.”

Rᴀʀᴇ, beautiful and ᴅᴇᴀᴅʟʏ sawfish once swam in waters from Sydney to Perth but these days you’re more likely to spot one nailed to the wall of a pub than see them in the wild. Hᴜɴᴛᴇᴅ for their saw-like snout, which grows up to two metres long and makes a sought-after ꜰɪsʜɪɴɢ ᴛʀᴏᴘʜʏ, the shark-shaped fish has retreated to a few isolated pockets in northern Australia. Sawfishes — also known as carpenter sharks — measure about 25 feet (7.6 meters) and tip the scales at 1,323 pounds (600 kilograms)! As low-key omnivores, sawfishes eat small fish, crustaceans, and mollusks, but little is known about their behavioral habits because they’ve largely evaded human observation in the wild.

Sadly, the sawfishes are not all right and rank among the most ᴇɴᴅᴀɴɢᴇʀᴇᴅ fish. Commercial ꜰɪsʜɪɴɢ is the animal’s primary opponent. Industrial nets snag their once-useful “saws,” and individuals meet their ends as bycatch. Pᴏʟʟᴜᴛɪᴏɴ and habitat ʟᴏss also present problems — as does marine ᴘᴏᴀᴄʜɪɴɢ for teeth and fins, which are prized as trophies and traditional medicine elements. “Everyone who has seen a sawfish is pretty fascinated by them … people aren’t targeting them but every now and then a sawfish does take bait,” she says. Older Australians have told Dr Wueringer they remember when large sawfish were regularly caught and there was one unconfirmed sighting of a sawfish in northern NSW about 10 years ago, she says.

Dᴇsᴛʀᴜᴄᴛɪᴏɴ of their mangrove habitat and the use of nets, which tangle on their snouts, have seen them disappear from their former range. Fisherman harvesting the animals for their fins is another obvious factor, Dr Wueringer says.Sawfish move easily between fresh and salt water, ʜᴜɴᴛɪɴɢ along the bottom of shallow muddy rivers and estuaries, swinging their snouts like a metal detector to unearth animals beneath the sand. Please share this article because it’s a pretty strange animal, isn’t it?

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