|Image from Elasmodiver|
The rostrum of Green Sawfish (Pristis zijsron) is no exception. It uses its saw mainly for feeding—swiping at unsuspecting fish, stunning and injuring the intended prey, or raking up tasty crustaceans from the seafloor. The Sawfish is closely related to sharks and rays, and, like them, has sharp scales called denticles; these have been modified to form the “teeth” of the saw. Catching food is not the only thing the rostrum is good for, as it is lined with motion- and electric- sensing pores to find buried prey. That, and if anything happens to appear threatening, it couldn’t hurt to have a spiky protrusion on… um… hand.
I thought Wikipedia had a typo when it stated that the Green Sawfish grew as large as 7 meters—surely, they must mean feet. Nope. This is a big fish. They reach maturity at 14 feet. Think of the length of a typical bedroom. A little more than half of that is filled with a fish that looks halfway between a shark and a ray. The other five and a half feet is a nose with spikes. Don’t worry; humans are much too large to be considered prey, though you might not want to provoke them.
The Green Sawfish is the most common sawfish. It’s also critically endangered. That doesn’t bode too well for the other species. In fact, the Common Sawfish (Pristis pristis) is pretty close to becoming extinct. The biggest threat to all sawfish is accidental by-catch by the fishing industry. Let’s face it, with a proboscis like that, getting tangled in nets would not be pleasant. Less frequently, they are caught on purpose—for meat, for oil, or for an interesting six-foot long spiky thing. As of yet, they are only beginning to set conservation measures into place.