Although shark-like in appearance, the smalltooth sawfish is actually a ray possessing gills with mouths located underneath their bodies. They are endangered fish due to habitat loss which is found in the tropical waters of the Atlantic Ocean as well as estuaries.
The smalltooth sawfish belong to the family Pristidae which means 'saw' in Greek: "Smalltooth sawfish belongs to a group of fishes called elasmobranchs that includes all other rays and sharks. Smalltooth sawfish swim like sharks but are actually a type of ray, in part because their gill slits are on the bottom of their bodies, like stingrays. All elasmobranchs have a skeleton made of cartilage."
Known also as carpenter sharks, these prehistoric fishes are thought to have first made their debut some 100 million years ago.
An interesting fact about these prehistoric fishes is that they reproduce via internal fertilization. They also have long flattened snouts that are lined with horizontal teeth known as the rostrum which is used for the purposes of locating and disabling prey as this excerpt explains: "The rostrum is covered with special organs that help these fish locate prey in the low visibility of coastal waters by sensing the electric field created by other fishes and invertebrates. After locating small fish prey, smalltooth sawfish shake their heads from side to side, injuring or stunning fish and making them easier to capture."
Smalltooth sawfish can grow to lengths of up to 25 feet.
In an interview with Newsweek, AJ Rotondella, who runs a catch-and-release land-based shark fishing guide service based in Florida describes how his client got a surprise of a lifetime when he caught what he thought was a shark: "While fishing, my clients got the surprise of their life when a sawfish emerged from the waves instead of a shark. They were absolutely shocked and in complete awe. It was actually the kid's first fish ever, which makes it even more unbelievable!"
The fish was released back into the water and a report was made with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
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