Saving this toothy swimmer
With its toothed rostrum and long, sharklike body, a sawfish is an amazing sight. Unfortunately, the rays are in trouble; habitat loss, fishing and the demand for their body parts are causing huge damage to all five species, and they’re thought to be among the most endangered marine creatures. Their numbers have plummeted by more than 90 per cent, and a huge conservation effort is now needed to stop sawfish disappearing from the sea.
The causes of endangerment
With their long, toothed rostrums, sawfish can easily become tangled in fishing nets and lines set to catch other fish. Trying to untangle and release them is difficult and dangerous, so fishermen will sometimes kill them or cut off their saws.
There’s a high demand for sawfish parts. Although they’re rays and not sharks, their fins are among the most highly prized for shark fin soup. Their bile, ova and liver oil are sold for use in traditional Chinese medicine, while their rostrums are sold online as curios.
Sawfish live in coastal and estuarine waters, prime areas for development. Increased human activity and development are reducing the area of ocean habitable for the sawfish, causing a huge drop in numbers across the world.
What you can do
www.thedeep.co.uk You can show your support for International Sawfish Day on the 17 October by using the hashtag #INTLsawfishday on social media. For more information about sawfish and their conservation, visit www.thedeep.co.uk/conservation.