The dwarf sawfish is also known as the Queensland sawfish and is the smallest of all the sawfish species reaching just over 3m in length.
The female dwarf sawfish is larger than the male when it reaches sexual maturity, with pupping apparently occurring during the wet season in Australia, from November to March.
Similar to the other 5 existing species of sawfish, its populations have been targeted by fisheries and get caught as bycatch, resulting in a range contraction of almost 50%-80%. Historically, dwarf sawfish occurred across the Indian Ocean and South-East Asia but are now restricted to the tropical waters off Northern Australia. No records have been confirmed outside these waters in almost 200 years.
It is illegal to catch dwarf sawfish in Australian waters, either commercially or recreationally. Nevertheless, they are susceptible to being caught in gillnets and trawl nets throughout their range due to their long rostra. Therefore, bycatch remains the biggest threat to this species. Habitat degradation also poses a threat to the species as the dwarf sawfish ventures to freshwater from coastal and estuarine areas.
- Order: Pristiformes
- Family: Pristidae
- Population: Unknown
- Trend: decreasing
- Size: 3m (?)
- Depth Range (m): Up to 20m
Due to a lack of confirmed encounters outside of Australia since the 1800’s, the dwarf sawfish is thought to be restricted to tropical northern Australia. Its historical range might have included the Indo-West Pacific and India.
Habitat and Ecology
Dwarf sawfish occupy a very small area of habitat within a few kilometres of the coast. They are demersal (live close to the floor of the sea) inhabiting shallow inshore areas such as tidal flats and mangrove swamps, being able to swim upstream in rivers and survive in freshwater. They often return to within 100m of their previous resting sites, indicating repeated habitat use.