Despite the shark-like appearance of their bodies, sawfishes are actually members of the ray family. A sawfish can be easily recognized by its saw-like rostrum, which is long and narrow, with a row of modified, tooth-like scales on either side. The longcomb sawfish will use its rostrum to help it hunt or forage for food. This sawfish feeds primarily on slow moving, schooling fish – it will first swim alongside its prey and then strike it with a sudden swipe of its toothed rostrum. This sawfish may also use its rostrum to stir up the sandy bottom to find bottom-dwelling crustaceans and shellfish.
  • Size

    18 feet (550 cm) to 23.9 feet (730 cm)
  • Diet

    Slow schooling fishes, such as mullet
  • Range

    Indo-West Pacific
  • Habitat

    Mainly bottom dwelling, found in shallow bays, lagoons and estuaries

Physical Characteristics

Size

  • Common length of 18 feet (550 cm), with a maximum length of 23.9 feet (730 cm).

Body Composition

  • Heavy, shark like body; very flat on ventral side.
  • Long, narrow rostrum is common to all sawfish. In this species, the “saw” is the longest of all, reaching a maximum length of 5.4 feet (164.5 cm).
  • Typically 25-34 rostal teeth (actually modified dermal dentricles) on either side of the saw.

Color

  • Displays countershading; dark olive or grey on dorsal side and pale yellow or white underneath.

 

Animal Fact

The longcomb sawfish’s “saw” can be as long as 5.4 feet (1.6 m)

Diet / Feeding

Diet

  • Diet consists primarily of slow schooling fishes, such as mullet.

Feeding

  • Stuns prey by quick swipes of the saw.
  • Shellfish and crustaceans are also consumed; sawfish will use its saw to sweep these animals out of the sand.

 

Range / Habitat

Range

  • Occurs in the Indo-West Pacific, Australia and Papua New Guinea, eastern coast of Africa north to the Red Sea, as well as China and south to New South Wales.

Habitat

  • Mainly bottom dwelling, found in shallow bays, lagoons and estuaries. Has been found at depths up to 131 feet (40 m), but 1 to 16 feet (1 to 5 m) seems to be most common.

Reproduction & Growth

  • It has been suggested (Grant, 1978) that adult males will use their saws in dominance and mating battles.

Conservation Status

  • “Critically Endangered” on the IUCN Red List.

Additional Information

  • Also known as the “green” sawfish and the “narrowsnout” sawfish.
  • Vulnerable to nets; both fishing and shark control nets surrounding beaches.
  • Predators include tiger and bull sharks, as well as freshwater crocodiles.

Sources

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