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Order - Pristiformes (Sawfish)

Sawfishes are a family related to the sharks and the rays. They have long, tooth-like snouts. Their snouts help them to detect their surroundings because like rays they spend most of there time lying flat on the ground. Because of the muddy atmosphere that they live in, they do not use their eyes, so their snouts help them to find the hidden prey. When a suitable prey passes by, these fish spring out and slashes at it from the bottom, so the prey generally is stunned or injured. This fish uses its snout to defend itself from its predators.


Their body and the head is flat, because they spend most of there time lying on the floor, like one of there family members (rays). These fish have their mouth and nares located on the other side of their underside. Their teeth are dome-like and are lined up to eat the small prey (fish). They have two spiracles right behind their eyes that draw water to the gills.


Their skin is covered with skin-teeth that give them a rough structure they are usually grey and brown and there are some other sawfishes that have different colors such as olive green. These sawfishes lack a swim bladder and use a large, oil-filled liver instead to keep them buoyant. They have a cartilage skeleton. Their intestines are shaped like a corkscrew, called spiral-valve.


They are found in tropical and subtropical areas in Africa, Australia and in the Caribbean. Frequently they ascend far into rivers. They are also found in bays and estuaries. They can be found in salt, muddy water and fresh water. They sleep in the morning and hunt in the night. They are gentle fish, and will not attack a human until provoked or surprised.


The sawfish is estimated to mate once every two years. They have an average litter of around eight pups. They mature slowly, it is estimated that they don’t reproduce until they are 3.5 to 4 meters long, at around ten to twelve years old. They reproduce at a lower rate than most other fish. The smallest sawfish is a southern sawfish.

Author: Ashar K.

Publish: 10/2008

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