Sawfishes are saltwater fish that belong to the same family
as the rays. They are from the family Pristidae from the
order Pristiformes. Pristiform means "a saw" or "a sawyer".
The Sawfish's most prominent feature is the long toothed
snout. Many people mistake the Sawfish when they see one and
believe it to be a shark.
Sawfish are not Saw Sharks, which, although they may have a
similar appearance, are not actually related in any way.
Sawfish are on the critically endangered species list and
all trade in any part of the Sawfishes is banned
The reason that a Sawfish is called a Sawfish is because of
the long rostrum that is covered with electro-sensitive and
motion-sensitive pores that allow the Sawfish to detect the
faintest movement, including that of a heartbeat. They use
the rostrum as a digging tool to reach prey that has buried
itself beneath the sand.
The nostrils and mouth of the Sawfish are located on the
bottom side of the fish. The mouth is filled with dome-
shaped teeth that are ideal for eating small fish and
crustaceans, which are their main diet.
Sawfish do not have teeth per se lining the rostrum,
instead, they have modified denticles that extend
horizontally out of the rostrum. Sawfish spend most of their
time lying on the ocean floor.
Ordinarily the Sawfish may seem to be asleep, but when prey
swims close by it will react with lightning-fast movement to
slash with its toothed rostrum. This action will injure the
prey or stun it sufficiently for the Sawfish to swallow it
Sawfish do not have scales; rather their entire skin is
covered with tiny sandpaper-like dermal denticles. They are
most often colored a brown or light grey to blend into the
ocean floor. There is also a species, the Smalltooth
Sawfish, which appears to be light olive green in color.
Sawfish have been known to be aggressive towards curious
divers that swim too close, and will attack with the
"toothed nose" when they feel threatened. They also will use
the "saw" to defend themselves against sharks or other
predators of the sea.
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