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Largetooth Sawfish

Pristis pristis

Sawfish are a type of ray, belonging to the same group of cartilaginous fishes as sharks, called elasmobranchs. The largetooth sawfish's most prominent feature is its rostrum, also referred to as snout or saw, which has 14 to 23 large rostral teeth protruding from it, and comprises almost a quarter of the total length of the sawfish. Its body color can range from gray to greenish to golden brown, while its underbelly is cream-colored.

Sawfish travel far up river systems and even live in freshwater. Sometimes, they may venture into bays and coastal marine habitats, especially during the dry season. Mature sawfish have occasionally been found in deeper ocean waters.

Females reproduce every other year and have a gestation period of about five months. There may be four to ten sawfish in a litter. The number of rostral teeth an individual sawfish will have throughout its life is fixed before birth. The teeth are somewhat flexible and covered by a thin membrane as they develop, and harden after the sawfish is born.

Did You Know?

This species is tolerant of a wide range of salinities, occurring from freshwater to seawater (euryhaline).


Largetooth sawfish prey upon prawns and other crustaceans, with fishes dominating their diet as they grow.


They can grow to approximately 20 feet long, and some have been reported to reach as long as 23 feet.


Circumtropical in coastal waters and in some river systems, including the famed Lake Nicaragua population.

Population Status

Sawfish are among the most endangered elasmobranchs in the world. The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) classifies largetooth sawfish as Critically Endangered. This means they are at serious risk of extinction.


They have few known predators, but are occasionally preyed upon by sharks and saltwater crocodiles.

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