Smalltooth Sawfish


Also‍ known​ as the Wide Sawfish ‌or ⁢Leichhardt’s Sawfish, the Smalltooth​ Sawfish, Pristis pectinata, belongs to the Pristidae family. The ⁣family includes sawfish species​ renowned for their ⁤distinctly elongated snouts lined with sharp, tooth-like⁣ structures.

Conservation​ Status

The Smalltooth Sawfish⁤ is currently listed as Critically⁣ Endangered according to ​the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Efforts have been‍ made towards‍ the⁣ conservation‌ of these creatures, including legal protection against intentional harm, capture or trade, and​ initiatives aimed at restoring their natural habitats.


Length18 ft (5.5 m)10-25​ ft (3-7.6 m)
Weight770 lbs (350 kg)400-1200 lbs (181-544 kg)
Average Lifespan25-30 yearsn/a


The Smalltooth Sawfish can be found in the tropical and subtropical‌ waters of the Atlantic Ocean. From the⁢ Western Atlantic ⁣region,‍ they inhabit ‌the waters of the United States, Bahamas, Cuba, Belize, and Brazil. The species does not have any significant migration patterns.


Smalltooth Sawfish prefer shallow coastal waters including bays, lagoons, and salt ⁣marshes. They have been ⁣found at⁣ depths of up ⁤to 10 m and can tolerate⁣ a wide‌ range of ‌temperatures. These‍ sawfish are euryhaline, meaning they can survive in various salinity levels, from freshwater to seawater.

When and Where to ​See

Smalltooth​ sawfish ‌are more commonly spotted during the‌ warmer months ‍of the year. They are primarily ​nocturnal animals, making the night-time ⁤the best chance to observe them.

Best Fishing‍ Locations

Though the species is critically ⁣endangered‍ and protected, incidental catches still occur. Top locations where ⁤Smalltooth Sawfish are ‌commonly found include:

  • Florida Bay, US
  • Charlotte Harbor, US
  • Everglades National Park, US
  • Caloosahatchee River, US
  • Northern Gulf of Mexico, US

How to Catch

Catching Smalltooth ​Sawfish is​ illegal due to ⁤its endangered status. However, ⁣in ⁢case that it‌ gets accidentally​ hooked while fishing, it is advised to not pull it on board but rather release ⁣it cautiously ‌but quickly as‍ possible.

Identification Guide

Smalltooth Sawfish can ⁢be identified by their long, ​thin bodies‌ with flattened heads and ​saw-like ⁢rostrum. The rostrum ⁤contains around twenty-two to twenty-nine teeth on each side. They have a brownish-grey‍ upper body and a lighter, usually white, underside.

Cultural/ Historical ‍Significance

Sawfish have a significant⁢ place in ‍many cultures, such as indigenous cultures in Australia, where they‌ are often featured‌ in dreamtime stories and ceremonies.

Predators and Threats

Despite ⁤its imposing appearance, ‍the Smalltooth Sawfish has‌ numerous threats including sharks and ​crocodiles. Its primary threat, however, is human activity, including habitat loss, capture in ​fishing nets, and ⁤hunting.

References and ⁣Further Reading

  1. Simpendorfer, C.A. (2021). “Pristis pectinata”.⁤ The IUCN Red⁤ List of Threatened Species.
  2. “Facts about the Smalltooth ⁢Sawfish.” Florida ⁤Museum,