The smalltooth sawfish
The BBFS has documented several captures of smalltooth sawfish (Pristis pectinata) over the course of the last five years. There have been no specific published records of the smalltooth sawfish from Bahamian waters, though their range is known to be circumglobal in tropical and subtropical waters. The documentation of this species in Bahamian waters is particularly important for several reasons. The smalltooth sawfish is one of the most endangered elasmobranchs in the world and is listed as critically endangered on the IUCN red list. Documenting its existence in previously unknown habitat is important for both the conservation of the sawfish and the habitat it uses. With infrequent but steady sightings of sawfish over the last five years, Bimini may prove to be an important site for use by this rare species.
P. pectinata illustrated plate (courtesy NOAA)
The smalltooth sawfish was first described by Latham in 1794. The genus name Pristis is actually Greek and simply translated means saw. Despite their outward appearance, sawfish are not sharks but are members of the ray family. They exhibit some general body characteristics of rays, including gill slits on their ventral (bottom) side and spiracles
in which to take in water on their dorsal side. Smalltooth sawfish are usually brown to blueish gray with a white underside. They can be identified from other species of sawfish by a count of the teeth on the rostrum. This species typically exhibits somewhere between 24 and 32 pairs of teeth on the rostrum. Additionally, the first dorsal fin originates where the pelvic fins begin.
IUCN Red List of Threatened Species - www.iucnredlist.org
Last, PR & JD Stevens. 1994. Sharks & Rays of Austrailia. CSIRO. Austrailia. 513 pg
Mote Marine Laboratory - Sawfish Biology Project
NMFS Sawfish Profile - Smalltooth Sawfish
Ocean Conservancy - Sawfish Profile