Defining Features[edit | edit source]
Pristiophoriformes, also known as Sawsharks, are known for their long snouts that resemble saws. The "spikes" protruding out of the sides of their snouts are actually teeth which they use to slash and kill their prey. There is a wide variation of pristiophoriformes. They differ in some characteristics, but they share many more. If these snouts were not yet unique enough, they have a pair of long barbels extending out the side of their "saw." Some other smaller defining characteristics of pristiophoriformes is their lack of an anal fin, most being able to mature to about 4.6 feet long, and these fishes can only be found in salt water.
Habitat and Range[edit | edit source]
Having habitats heavily concentrated and native to the East Indian ocean, the Pristiophoriformes species population, also commonly called “SawShark”, extends across the base of the Australian continent and does not venture within the Western Central Pacific. Other locations where these Sawsharks are living include Cuba, Bahamas, South Africa, and Japan’s waters.
A subtropical species with a depth range of 121 to 1,017 feet, most saw sharks aren’t found past the 479 ft depth and enjoy the upper slope (sandy or gravelly area off the continental shoreline). Notably, the Japanese Sawshark, are of the marine demersal species primarily found in depths from 0 meters to 500 meters. Whereas other members such as the Bahamas Sawshark is a marine bathydemersal species that can be found in depths ranging from 400 meters to 1000 meters.
Fisheries Conservation and Concern[edit | edit source]
Most species of sawsharks are list as of least concern or insufficient data. They are primarily threatened as bycatch and by habitat destruction.
Closest Relatives[edit | edit source]
Example Species in Pristiophoriformes[edit | edit source]
Sixgill Sawshark[edit | edit source]
Pliotrema warreni[edit | edit source]
Defining Features: The Sixgill Sawshark has six pairs of gill slits and a saw like snout. It has white coloration on its ventral surface and pale brown coloration on its dorsal surface. It has no dorsal spines, anal spines, dorsal soft rays, or anal soft rays.
Range & Habitat: The Sixgill Sawshark is found on upper slopes and continental shelfs. It is found in the Western Indian Ocean off the coasts of South Africa, Cape Agulhas, Madagascar, and southern Mozambique. It is a marine demersal species located in depths of 60 m to 430 m.
IUCN Concern: This species is nearly threatened. Off of southern Mozambique and South Africa, it is often bycatch from of demersal bottom trawlers. This species is not monitored and are most likely seen as not common enough in bycatch to cause marketing, but there are intensive offshore trawl fisheries that are located in its range. This shark is primarily discarded and not utilized.
Common Sawshark[edit | edit source]
Pristiophorus cirratus[edit | edit source]
Defining Features: The Common Sawshark has a saw like snout with barbels that are about equal distance from the rostrum tip to the mouth, but the barbels can be slightly closer to mouth in some individuals. Larger Common Sawsharks also can have denticles on their pectoral and dorsal fins. The caudal fin has slender lower and upper lobes and it is close to being straight. This species also has countershading with white coloration on its ventral side.
Range & Habitat: This organism is a marine demersal species ranging in depths of 37 m to 310 m, but it usually is located in depths of 37 m to 146 m. It is found on the upper slope and continental shelf. Its distribution is in the Eastern Indian Ocean off the coast of southern Australia. It is not found in the Western Central Pacific Ocean.
IUCN Concern: The Common Sawshark is listed as a species of least concern. It is often caught as a byproduct in the Commonwealth Trawl Sector of the Southern and Eastern Scalefish and Shark Fishery as well as the Shark Gillnet Sector specifically targeting Gummy Sharks.
References[edit | edit source]
I.U.C.N Redlist: https://www.iucnredlist.org/
Chondrichthyan Tree of Life: https://sharksrays.org/
Animal Diversity Web: https://animaldiversity.org/accounts/Pristiophorus_cirratus/
Encyclopedia Britannica: https://www.britannica.com/animal/saw-shark