International Sawfish Day is celebrated each year on 17 October to focus on the need for sawfish conservation and the importance of sawfish in the oceans.
Entanglements in fishing nets and changes in habitat are among the many reasons sawfish have been forced onto the endangered species list.
Sawfish are a unique member of the Elasmobranch Class, making them relatives of sharks and rays.
One of the defining features of this class is the ability to detect electromagnetic impulses of their prey. This advantage helps them find sick or injured fish, which are much easier to catch.
The main feature that sets sawfish apart from other sharks and rays is their saw-like appendage, called a rostrum.
The rostrum has 14 to 23 large rostral teeth that project on each side and is used for hunting as well as defense. Sawfish use the rostrum to dig for a meal in the sand or they will whip the rostrum around in a school of fish for an easy catch.
Sawfish can be found all over the world in tropical coastal waters. This includes U.S. populations in the Gulf of Mexico and along the coastlines of southern states.
International Sawfish Day was established as a collaboration between the Sawfish Species Survial Plan (SSP) of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) and the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria (EAZA ) studbook program as well research and conservation organizations to highlight endangered sawfish and the challenges they face in the world’s oceans.