The green sawfish (Pristis zijsron) is also known by a few other common names. Most notably: Dindagubba, narrowsnout sawfish, and the longcomb sawfish. We think "green sawfish" suits it quite nicely... plus it allows for another green animal to talk about when St. Patrick's day rolls around. Sometimes people get tired of hearing about the Greenland shark.
This critter was once seen in the northern Indian Ocean, around south and south-east Asia and around northern Australia. Now? Well... let's just say that the last confirmed sighting of them in New South Wales (Australia) was in 1972. Womp, womp. In Africa, the green sawfish can get confused with its cousin the smalltooth sawfish (P. pectinata). Populations for sawfish in general have been severely depleted and sightings have taken a nose dive, becoming increasingly rare in the last 40 years.
As another one of its common name suggests, it does have a narrow blade-like snout (which sport 24-28 pairs of ‘rostral teeth’). They are indeed a green-brown (some people call that 'olive') on top which fades into a creamy underbelly. Weighing an average of about 350 kg (770 pounds) and measuring about 4.5 metres (15 feet), this species is known to grow bigger- up to a massive 7 m (23 feet)! They average about 50 years and sexual maturity is reached at around 3-3.5 m (10-12 ft). So... usually when they are 5-9 years old. Don't think about that last part too much.
Like many other sawfish, they like the muddy shallows (less than 10 m/33ft) of coastal and estuarine habitats; however, this species has been found in fresh water river (up to 150 miles upriver!) and sometimes in deeper waters. In its habitat, they feed on shoaling fish such as mullet. They use that saw-like snout to swipe at them, which often stuns, injures, or just outright kills the fish! They may also use their snout to dig up crustaceans and molluscs.
Those snouts can lead to some tangles, though- literally. Entanglements in nets, lines and other fishing gear can lead to these animals being caught as bycatch (or intentionally). Many juveniles use the shallows as nurseries, too, and these areas are being modified or destroyed due to development. But, thanks to dedicated scientists around the world, all sawfish (Pristidae) species are listed on Appendix I of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). Appendix I limits international trade in species to exceptional circumstances only. The IUCN has assessed these animals as Critically Endangered (CE).
EVER HEARD OF THIS ANIMAL?
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TFUI Founder Melissa C. Marquez is author of all animal bios and "Behind the Fins" segments.
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