Recognizing International Sawfish Day

We’re recognizing International Sawfish Day by highlighting the importance of these elasmobranchs to the aquatic ecosystem!

Published October 17, 2018

There are five species of sawfish found in many ecosystems across the world, including coastal waters, estuaries and even fresh water in tropical regions. As predators, these elasmobranchs are important members in regulating the food chain by feeding on fish and crustaceans.

Largetooth sawfish

Despite their importance, all five species—the largetooth sawfish, the smalltooth sawfish, the green sawfish, the dwarf sawfish and the narrow sawfish—are listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act. The International Union of Conservation of Nature (IUCN) lists two of these species, the narrow and dwarf sawfish, as endangered and the other three—smalltooth, green and largetooth sawfish—as critically endangered. Populations are consistently on the decline due to habitat destruction, fishing and detrimental practices such as finning. However, there are signs that populations of the smalltooth sawfish—which were once restricted to a very small range—are slowly recovering.

Here at the National Aquarium, we have two largetooth sawfish in Shark Alley! Unlike other sawfish species, the largetooth sawfish can survive in both fresh water and salt water. Pregnant females give birth near the mouths of the rivers. Largetooth sawfish pups spend their early years—anywhere between four and six years—in river systems or fresh water and then make their way to estuaries and eventually into marine waters as adults.

As regulators of the food chain in both freshwater and saltwater habitats, the diet of a largetooth can vary. Young largetooth sawfish in fresh water often feed on crustaceans, such as prawn, and small fishes, including catfish. As they age and move towards salt water, they begin to feed mainly on fish.

Learn more about how you can help sawfish!

Previous Post

Featured Stories

Manatee Manatees Visiting Maryland!

As the waters off the mid-Atlantic coast warm up, it’s not unusual to spot some seasonal visitors swimming in our local waterways—manatees!

Read the full story

Snapping turtle and red-eared sliders Floating Wetland Update: Turtles, Fish and Birds!

Several new species have been spotted on the National Aquarium’s floating wetland prototype in the Inner Harbor!

Read the full story

Related Stories

Do All Sharks Need to Keep Swimming to Breathe?

Published August 02, 2019

Where Have All the Sharks Gone?

Published July 29, 2019