Not just Shark
Pictures: Elasmodiver contains photos of sharks, skates, rays, and
chimaera's from around the world. Elasmodiver began as a simple web
based shark field guide to help divers find the best places to
encounter the different species of sharks and rays that live in
shallow water but it has slowly evolved into a much larger project
containing information on all aspects of shark diving and shark
There are now
more than 5000 shark pictures and sections on shark evolution,
biology, and conservation. There is a large library of reviewed
shark books, a constantly updated shark taxonomy page, a monster
list of shark links, and deeper in the site there are numerous
articles and stories about shark encounters. Elasmodiver is now so
difficult to check for updates, that new information and pictures
are listed on an Elasmodiver Updates Page that can be accessed here:
flattened sharklike body. Elongated flattened rostrum (saw) accounts for about
1/4 of overall length. Saw contains 21 to 34 pairs of rostral teeth.
Pectoral fins broadly rounded with pointed tips. First dorsal fin origin is over
pelvic fins. Lower caudal lobe is greatly reduced.
length 760cm. Length at birth 60cm.
and mud bottoms in estuaries, bays, and lagoons. Also in fresh or brackish water
environments in lakes and rivers. Depth range to 400'.
Abundance and distribution: Uncommon
due to habitat loss and over fishing. Easily caught in fishing nets where
removal without injury to the animal is difficult. Also previously hunted for
its saw which was sold in curio shops. Found on the Atlantic coast of the
Americas from New England to Brazil and in the Eastern Atlantic from Morocco to
South Africa. Recorded (perhaps incorrectly) from the Mediterranean Sea,
Pacific, and Indian Oceans.
into schools of fish and thrashes its saw from side to side, wounding and
killing the fish which it then recovers. Also, uses its saw to dig for crabs and
mussels from the sediment.
15 to 20 young are born with flexible rostrums in which the teeth are covered
with skin to avoid injury to the mother.
Observations: This report comes with thanks from
Jason Seitz - Florida Sawfish researcher:Recently, I interviewed a diver and he informed me
that he had seen two large sawfish at the Thunderbolt wreck off Marathon in 117
feet of water on 1/20/03. The larger of the
two sawfish, estimated at 20 feet, took off when the diver approachedand
he was not able to take any photos of it. The second one, estimated to
be 15-16 feet, was not skittish and the diver took several photos of it. Water
temperature was cool (60 deg F). The photos show that it is a
female Pristis pectinata, the smalltooth sawfish.
toMatt Garvey - Thunderbolt Wreck, Marathon.Aquarium shots are
from Ripleys in South Carolina.
Reaction to divers:
There are no locations that I know of where divers can reliably find Smalltooth
sawfish due to their rarity and preference for turbid environments. Cruising
around in Florida river mouths where temperatures are in the range of 16 to 30
degrees is most likely to yeild the best results but visibility in this
environment is usually very poor. REEF has no listed sightings during surveys.
Other diving locations submitted by readers:
Sighting by Gale Mead whilst diving off Cuba: During a dive
trip last week I had the extraordinary experience of a swim-by from a 12-15
foot sawfish at Cay Lobos, about 10 miles north of Cuba. The sawfish was
swimming along a steep wall, depth about 120 feet. Depth at top of wall
about 60 feet, with dense coral reef habitat interspersed with large sandy
areas, about 1/4 mile from a small island (Cay Lobos Lighthouse). Depth
at the base of the wall is about 400'. The sawfish didn't appear to notice me
but reportedly turned to avoid other divers in its path. Relevant details:
6/16/04 Early afternoon. Depth about 120 feet. Vis 70+. GPS
coordinates for the mooring, about 100 yards north of the sighting: 22 22.645'
N 77 35.538' W
Due to the rarity of sawfish please email Jason Seitz (Florida Sawfish researcher) with any sightings.
Or call the Florida Sawfish Hotline: 941-613-0948
The Florida sawfish site (see links page).
Scott W. Michael - Reef Sharks and Rays of the