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WHAT IS ELASMODIVER?

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 photography.

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:

WHAT'S NEW?

Shark picture - green sawfish

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SMALLTOOTH SAWFISH

MORE SMALLTOOTH SAWFISH PHOTOGRAPHS

View all available Smalltooth Sawfish Pictures in the Shark Pictures Database

Common Names: Smalltooth sawfish, Florida sawfish.

Latin Name: Pristis pectinata

Family: Pristidae

Identification: Overall 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.

Size: Maximum length 760cm. Length at birth 60cm.

Habitat: Sand 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.  

Behavior: Swims 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.

Reproduction: Ovoviviparous. 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 approached and 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. 

Photographs: Thanks to Matt Garvey - Thunderbolt Wreck, Marathon. Aquarium shots are from Ripleys in South Carolina.  

Similar species:

Reaction to divers:

Diving logistics: 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. floridasawfish@yahoo.com

Or call the Florida Sawfish Hotline: 941-613-0948

References: 

  • The Florida sawfish site (see links page). 
  • Scott W. Michael - Reef Sharks and Rays of the World.
  • Fishbase.com

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