Sawfish: Characteristics, habitat, reproduction and more….

This time you will meet the sawfish also known as carpenter shark, a large animal whose greatest attraction is its elongated saw-shaped snout full of sharp teeth, which are actually modified dental scales.

Below you will find all the information about this interesting aquatic animal.

Taxonomy 🐠

Animalia Kingdom Phylum:Chordata Subphylum: Vertebrata

Class: Chondrichthyes  Subclass: Elasmobranchii Superorder: Batoidea Order: Pristiformes Family: Pristidaesawfish: taxonomic categories

Sawfish Fish: Main Characteristics 🐠

The sawfish family has two genera and seven species. They are relatively related to the rays and have a skeleton full of cartilage. Its main feature is given by its muzzle similar to a saw which is wrapped in a large number of pores that allow it to detect any movement to hunt. This gives it a great advantage in the field.

Its sensory capacity is so great that it’s capable of perceiving the heartbeat of any animal. Most of the activities are carried out thanks to its saw-like snout which serves both for the attack and for the defense.

It’s a very well balanced tool that can capture a prey to devour immediately and is commonly commonly used to defend against predators such as dolphins and sharks. It’s worth mentioning that this species does not have teeth, but dental scales.

The snout is  made-up by 23 pairs of teeth that go in front projection. It’s so large that it represents more than a quarter of its body.

They can go to different directions to attack their prey which hurts with the saw. It’s completely covered with sensory pores that help you perceive everything around them.

The sawfish can hunt in two ways. The first is to use its snout as a brush. This way it can attract sand from areas where prey such as crustaceans, crabs and shrimps hide.

It can also express its prey such as lacerants, mullets and other specimens. However, it’s an easy prey for sharks when they are young.

As they grow up they are able to defend themselves against the fearsome predators of the ocean. We invite you to read our article barreleyes fish to learn more about chordates.

Body Color 🐠

As usual in this type of pristiform fish the color of the sawfish is usually brown or gray, however there is an exception in the Pristis pectinata species whose color has an olive green hue.

Size and weight

Sawfish weigh  around six meters although there are specimens of different sizes and weights, which can range from one and a half meters to six meters or seven, like the giant sawfish whose weight ranges between 570 to 590 kilograms.

Behavior 🐠

The sawfish is a nocturnal and very passive animal that usually spends its day resting peacefully to be firm and attentive in the nights that it’s when it carries out its hunting activity.

However, and although it’s possible to find characteristics that inspire fear in the sawfish, they are passive fish and are incapable of attacking man.

They could only do so if provoked or threatened.

It’s also worth mentioning that the sawfish is a sedentary animal that can spend its life resting in quiet areas of sandy soils in which it usually lives.

This feature besides being one of the most striking is its main tool of utility and defense.

Like the rest of its species batoid elasmobranchs, can be totally calm in the resting places and breathe normally using  the huge spiracles located on its eyes.

Let’s meet them

Other species of Sawfish 🐠

Pristis clavata (Dwarf swfish)


The dwarf sawfish has a torpedo-shaped body that resembles that of a shark, and grows to a length of about 320 cm (126 inches). It has wide, triangular pectoral fins, large dorsal fins, in an upright position.

The first dorsal fin is located directly above, or slightly behind, the origins of the pelvic fins, and the caudal fin has a very small lower lobe.

The snout is wide and flat and is elongated in a platform with about twenty pairs of rostral teeth. This fish is generally brown-greenish, or occasionally yellowish brown, on its dorsal surface, and whitish below.

The dwarf sawfish is native to the western Indo-Pacific region and historically had a much broader scope than it does now. Its present confirmed range is from the Cape York Peninsula, Queensland, north of the Pilbara region of Western Australia.

Once it was seen from the Canary Islands it was probably of a different species. It usually inhabits coastal waters, estuaries, tidal marshes and sometimes the lower reaches of the rivers.


This sawfish feeds mainly on fish, but also feeds on molluscs and crustaceans. The rostrum has a large number of pores adapted for electroreception and is likely also used to manipulate prey.

Its sensory input helps fish move around in the murky waters in which they often live.

Although they are sometimes found in deep water, most movements are carried out while the tide is rising or falling, and the movements during each tidal cycle can be up to 10 km (6.2 miles) .

At high tide the fish tend to feed and rest among the mangroves.

Little is known about the breeding habits of the dwarf sawfish.  Fish are ovoviviparous with developing embryos feed on the yolks of their eggs. It’s not known how many young people can be carried at a time, nor how often the fish can reproduce, but the young are about 65 cm (26 inches) long when they are born.

The maximum longevity in this species is estimated at forty-eight years.

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Pristis zijsron (Green sawfish) 🐠

The green sawfish is a sparkle, with a shark-like body and an amazing elongated snout known as a saw. This saw has 23 to 37 pairs of teeth from which the species gains its common name.

This saw is greenish brown or olive green, with the undersides pale white or yellowish. At maturity the males reach impressive lengths of up to 430 cm.

Females don’t   know precisely how much they can measure, but they are believed to reach similar sizes to males.

Sizes: Male size at maturity: 430 cm.

Biology. This species often rests on the bottom keeping the saw at an angle.

It feeds on slow-moving fish that form schools like mullet, it can also eliminate crustaceans and molluscs from sediments by using the saw.

Like other shark and ray species, fertilization is internal and females give birth to live young. At birth, the saws have a gelatinous layer that protects the mother.

Rank. This fish has a wide distribution in the northern Indian Ocean, reaching east of South Africa and is also found in Indonesia, Australia and the western Pacific. Throughout this range, populations of this species have been severely reduced and sightings have been rare in the last 40 years.

Habitat. This species inhabits the muddy or sandy bottoms in marine coastal areas, intertidal areas and the lower parts of the rivers. It can be found in lagoons, estuaries and shallow bays.

State. It’s classified as Critically Endangered (CR) on the IUCN Red List since 2006. Classified as an endangered species in New South Wales under Fisheries Management since 1994.


The main threat facing this species is the accidental capture in shrimp fisheries or in gillnets and other fishing activities.

Due to its large size and the saw, this species becomes entangled in the nets very easily and since they are difficult to release, they rarely survive being trapped in this way.

Direct fishing has also been a problem, it has been widely trapped by its fins for use in the shark fin soup, saw and meat industry.

The high price of fins in Asian markets increases the threats faced by members of this family. On the other hand, the degradation of soft-bottomed habitats on which they depend has become widespread.

Conservation. This species is classified as Critically Endangered on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Current recovery actions include

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¿Where do Sawfish Inhabit?🐠

Sawfish are found in warm marine habitats near the coast and in some cases also in rivers and lakes.

In the past they used to be present in 90 tropical and subtropical countries; however, the depletion of populations has resulted in a severe contraction of the range.

Historical data, especially from Central America, West Africa and the Indo-Pacific region, indicate that these intrinsically migratory species regularly crossed national borders, a pattern of behavior that should resume after population recovery.

Conservation Status and Threats 🐠

All sawfish species are classified as «endangered» or «critically endangered» on the IUCN Red List. Many populations are supposed to be locally extinct in many regions where sightings have not been reported for decades.

The faces of sawfish get easily entangled in many types of fishing gear, especially in trawls and gillnets.

Fishing mortality constitutes the main risk for the remaining sawfish populations.

The destruction of their key habitats, such as mangroves or seagrasses, also poses a significant threat to the survival of the species.

How Sawfish Reproduce? 🐠

Little is known about the reproduction of this fish, so far it can be said that they are ovoviviparous, so eggs develops within the female until hatching.

These fish are fully mature at the age of around ten years, managing to live up to about thirty years, if they are not caught before.

Their maturity is achieved very slowly, to reproduce they must have reached about four meters long or so and be between ten and twelve years old.

The sawfishes’ reproduction is quite poor with respect to the other species, which means that an overfishing of sawfish is fatal for its continuity and it’s hard to recover again.

It worth pointing out that the reproduction rate of this species is quite low and can be compared with that of sailfish or marlin  that also has a rather slow and complicated reproduction system.

April and the end of June, are the most common reproduction seasons of this species.ü

. When they reach around 10 years old is when they reach full maturity. If they are not captured by their predators or the human being,   sawfish usually have a life expectancy of 30 years.

To reach sexual maturity they have to reach about four meters long and 10 years old.

Its reproduction is not very numerous, which makes it really vulnerable to overfishing. The reproduction rate of this sawfish is quite low and can be compared with sailfish or marlin that also has a fairly slow reproduction system

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Sawfish fish consumption 🐠

This species is usually consumed salty and is usually caught with shrimp fishing, that is, they are not obtained in large quantities but occasionally.

There are nutritive properties in this sawfish, but it’s also important to mention certain amounts of mercury, so it’s recommended not to consume them very frequently or high proportions.

 Sawfish Fish Fishing 🐠

Since ancient times this fish has been the victim of accidental fishing in several areas of the Mediterranean and the Eastern Atlantic where other types of fish are caught and sawfish fall because due to their structure it’s very difficult to discard the gillnets, drag and longline.

These fish are usually established in not-so-deep waters in areas where different fishing activities are carried out, where they are trapped because they are vulnerable, even if they are not the targets.

Its saw-shaped snout is embedded in the networks, which has caused it to virtually disappear in much of Europe and Australia. There are properties in the sawfish that allow it to settle without any problem in saltwater as in freshwater, usually it inhabits shallow waters with muddy or sandy areas such as streams, lakes, streams, lagoons, bays, estuaries and rivers.

Almost always performs migrations to places with depths of 130 meters, looking for new horizons. In any case these fish are in relation to sharks. In Mexico the saw is used in traditional medicine to cure various respiratory conditions.

Let’s enjoy them one more time

Pickled Sawfish


✔️ 1 Kilogram of sawfish, clean and sliced

✔️  1 sliced ​​onion

✔️  3 lemons, the juice

✔️  1/2 cup of water (or chicken broth)

✔️    6 black peppers

✔️    2 cloves

✔️     1 1/2 Cup of oil (preferably olive)

✔️    1 bay leaf

✔️    1/4 cup flour

✔️    3 garlic cloves

✔️  3 basil leaves

✔️   1 tablespoon concentrated consomme

✔️    1/2 cup vinegar

✔️    20 chopped olives


✔️ Marinate the fish slices with the lemon juice for 20 minutes.

✔️  Then flour and fry them in oil until golden brown.

✔️   Fry the onion and garlic, until they acitronen, and add the vinegar, cloves, pepper, basil, bay leaf, consome concentrate.

✔️   Let it cook for 20 minutes.

✔️   Add the olives and put it on top of the fish, and let it simmer for 10 minutes.

Bon appetite


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