Body shark-like with two nearly equal-sized dorsal fins; head flattened; 17-20 teeth on each side of saw-like snout; a large spiracle behind each eye; pectoral fins broad and triangular; tail fin shark-like with large upper lobe and small, but pronounced lower lobe; origin of first dorsal fin well forward of pelvic fin origin.
Dark grey to golden brown, whitish on ventral surface; specimens in freshwater are pale grey.
Grows to about 650 cm and estimated weight of 590 Kg.
Inhabits shallow bays and estuaries, also entering rivers.
Depth: 1-10 m.
Eastern Pacific and the east and west Atlantic; in our region from the southern Gulf of California to Peru.
The status of the species in the eastern Pacific is questionable. We treat it as P. pristis, which elsewhere occurs in the Atlantic. However, it may be a separate endemic species P. zephyreus.
While there are reports of a second species of sawfish, P. pectinata, in the eastern Pacific, that has yet to be unequivocally demonstrated. P. pectinata lacks a definite lower lobe on its tail fin, has 25-32 teeth on each side of the saw, has narrow, angular pectoral fins, and has the origin of its first dorsal fin directly over that of the pelvic fins.
Attributes Abundance: Common. Cites: Not listed. Climate Zone: Northern Subtropical (Cortez Province + Sinaloan Gap); Northern Tropical (Mexican Province to Nicaragua + Revillagigedos); Equatorial (Costa Rica to Ecuador + Galapagos, Clipperton, Cocos, Malpelo). Depth Range Max: 10 m. Depth Range Min: 1 m. Diet: mobile benthic crustacea (shrimps/crabs); mobile benthic gastropods/bivalves; bony fishes. Eastern Pacific Range: Northern limit=25; Southern limit=-4; Western limit=-109; Eastern limit=-78; Latitudinal range=29; Longitudinal range=31. Egg Type: Live birth; No pelagic larva; No pelagic phase. Feeding Group: Carnivore. FishBase Habitat: Bentho-Pelagic. Global Endemism: East Pacific + Atlantic (East +/or West); Transisthmian (East Pacific + Atlantic of Central America); East Pacific + all Atlantic (East+West); TEP non-endemic; All species. Habitat: Beach; Estuary; Mud; Soft bottom (mud, sand,gravel, beach, estuary & mangrove); Soft bottom only; Sand & gravel; Freshwater. Inshore Offshore: Inshore; Inshore Only. IUCN Red List: Critically endangered; Listed. Length Max: 650 cm. Regional Endemism: Continent only; Continent; Tropical Eastern Pacific (TEP) non-endemic; Eastern Pacific non-endemic; All species. Residency: Resident. Salinity: Brackish; Freshwater; Marine. Water Column Position: Bottom; Bottom only;
Béarez, P., 1996., Lista de los Peces Marinos del Ecuador Continental., Revista de Biologia Tropical, 44:731-741.
Candanedo , C. and D'Croz, L., 1983., Ecosistema acuático del lago Bayano: un embalse tropical., Publicación Técnica IRHE, Dirección de Ingenieria, Departamento de Hidrometeorología, Panamá., :38pp.
Compagno , L. J. V. and Cook, S. F., 1995., The exploitation and conservation of freshwater elasmobranchs: status of taxa and prospects for the future., Journal of Aquariculture and Aquatic Sciences, 7:62-90.
Compagno, L.J.V., 1999., Checklist of living elasmobranchs. In Hamlett W.C. (ed.) Sharks, skates, and rays: the biology of elasmobranch fishes., The John Hopkins University Press:471-498.
Findley, L.T., Hendrickx, M.E., Brusca, R.C., van der Heiden, A.M., Hastings, P.A., Torre, J., 2003., Diversidad de la Macrofauna Marina del Golfo de California, Mexico., CD-ROM versión 1.0. Projecto de la Macrofauna del Golfo . Derechos reservados de los autores y Conservación Internacional.
Fischer , W. , Krup , F. , Schneider , W. , Sommer , C. , Carpenter , K. E. and Niem, V. H., 1995., Guia FAO para la Identificacion de Especies de para los fines de la Pesca. Pacifico Centro-Oriental. Volumen II. Vertebrados - Parte 1., FAO2:647-1200.
Jimenez-Prado, P., Béarez, P., 2004., Peces marinos del Ecuador continental / Marine fishes of continental Ecuador., SIMBIOE/NAZCA/IFEA tomo 1 y 2.
Jordan , D.S. and Evermann, B.W., 1896., The fishes of North and Middle America: a descriptive catalogue of the species of fish-like vertebrates found in the waters of North America, north of the Isthmus of Panama. Part I., Bull. U.S. Nat. Mus., 47:1-1240.
Linnaeus, C., 1758., Systema Naturae, Ed. X. (Systema naturae per regna tria naturae, secundum classes, ordines, genera, species, cum characteribus, differentiis, synonymis, locis. Tomus I. Editio decima, reformata.) Holmiae., Systema Nat. ed. 10, 1:1-824.
Lopez , M. I. and Bussing, W. A., 1982., Lista provisional de los peces marinos de la Costa Rica., Revista de Biologia Tropical, 30(1):5-26.
A recent study by Faria
. (2012) found no differences between various populations of
, resulting in the inclusion of
as a junior synonym to
. The species was listed as Critically Endangered by the IUCN in 2012 for
from the Atlantic and Eastern Pacific and Critically Endangered for the Indo-Pacific populations in 2006 (as
). In Australia, the species is listed as Vulnerable under the
Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999
under the name
Northern Territory, Queensland, Western Australia
Extra Distribution Information
From the Fitzroy, Durack and Ord rivers, WA, the Adelaide, Victoria and Daly rivers, NT and the Gilbert, Mitchell, Norman and Leichhardt rivers, QLD; one specimen from off Cape Naturaliste, WA; tropical, circumglobal
NT, Qld, WA: Arnhem Coast (ARC), Arnhem Plateau (ARP), Central Arnhem (CA), Central Kimberley (CK), Cape York Peninsula (CYP), Daly Basin (DAB), Darwin Coastal (DAC), Dampierland (DL), Einasleigh Uplands (EIU), Gulf Fall and Uplands (GFU), Gulf Coastal (GUC), Gulf Plains (GUP), Mount Isa Inlier (MII), Northern Kimberley (NK), Ord Victoria Plain (OVP), Pine Creek (PCK), Tiwi Cobourg (TIW), Victoria Bonaparte (VB)
Northern Shelf Province (25), Northwest Shelf Transition (26), Northwest Shelf Province (27), Southwest Shelf Province (31)
Original AFD Distribution Data
Northern Territory: Gulf of Carpentaria, N Gulf, N coast, N coastal
Queensland: Gulf of Carpentaria, N Gulf
Western Australia: Lower W coast, N coast, N coastal, NW coast
Extra Ecological Information
Juveniles are found in freshwater and the upper reaches of estuaries; they move to the sea (to depths of 25 m) after about about 3 years.