To see photographs of Large-tooth Sawfish (Pristis perotteti)
Large-tooth Sawfish (Pristis perotteti)
All text on this page is copyright protected:
© 2014 Kelvin Aitken.
All rights reserved. Students may use this information for personal research
only. Not for commercial use.
Taxonomic name: Pristis perotteti
Other Common Names: Southern Sawfish.
The sawfish family has five members in Australian waters, all found in
northern tropical areas in salt- or freshwater environments. All have
a distinctive elongated snout which has an almost constant width right
up to the rounded tip and a row of similar-sized teeth along
The smallest species, the Dwarf Sawfish, grows to 1.5 m or more, which
is about the size of the largest sawshark. The Wide Sawfish is reputed
to grow to 7.6 m, one of the biggest fish in the sea, but most sawfish
would be found in the 25 m range with the young beginning life at
about 5060 cm long, including their saw.
Four of the five species the Green, Wide, Dwarf and Narrow Sawfish
occur in shallow coastal areas where they are usually caught in
gill nets or offshore by prawn trawlers. The Freshwater Sawfish has only
been reliably recorded from the upper reaches of estuaries, freshwater
rivers and waterholes. At times it has been found up to 100 km from the
coast or in waterholes that have been isolated from rivers for a number
of years due to low annual floods.
The long saw, studded with teeth, is a formidable weapon used
in hunting and defence. The saw is used to slash at prey or to uproot
bottom-dwelling fish and it can be dangerous to humans that startle or
capture a large specimen. Like the embryonic sawshark, a young sawfish
prior to birth has this formidable weapon sheathed in a protective membrane
and the usually rigid saw is soft and pliable.