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2. Green sawfish

Pristis zijsron


Sawfish are characterised by their large and unique saw-like rostra used to detect electrical signals and to stun or pin down potential prey. The green sawfish is the largest of the sawfish species and is also known around the world as the longcomb, narrowsnout, or olive sawfish. All 5 sawfish species are listed within the top 10 EDGE Sharks!

The green sawfish is the largest of the sawfish species, which can live up to 50 years and reach a length of 7m, although in recent year’s individuals larger than 6m are rarely encountered. Adults typically inhabit shallow coastal areas but are known to occur in offshore waters to a depth of 70m. Juveniles, similar to other sawfish species, spend their early years in shallow estuarine systems.

This species, along with many elasmobranch species, have seen dramatic population declines and are slow to recover due to their life histories. Their toothed rostra puts all sawfish species at risk of becoming tangled in fishing nets and many individuals end up as bycatch within the fishing industry – which is the primary factor in their severe population declines. The green sawfish is listed on Appendix I of CITES, banning all international trade of this species and it is protected by a no-take status in parts of its range, such as Australia, Bahrain and India.

  • Family: Pristidae
  • Population: Unknown
  • Trend: decreasing
  • Size: Up to 5.5m (?)
  • Weight: Up to 350kg
GE / IUCN Red List (?)
Not Evaluated Data Deficient Least Concern Near Threatened Vulnerable Endangered Critically Endangered Extinct in the Wild Extinct


The green sawfish has a broad Indo-West Pacific distribution from South Africa to Southern China. It is the most pole-ward ranging of any sawfish species as it is tolerant to cooler temperatures, even being encountered as far south as New South Wales, Australia.

Habitat and Ecology

This species lives in shallow coastal waters, but has also been encountered in water as deep as 70m. They feed primarily on fish and prawns and reproduce via aplacental viviparity, in which there is no placental connection and the young are supplied with nutrients from yolk before being born as live young. Litter size is 12 pups.

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