Will you see a sawfish next week?


A juvenile green sawfish was caught and released over the holidays, in 2019. Detailed submissions like this one are extremely valuable to us, complete with GPS, bait information and video – but no sighting data is too small.

Sharks and Rays Australia

From Perth across the North to Sydney tell us if you do or don’t see a sawfish for National Sawfish Sighting Week October 23-29, 2023

Sawfish are remarkable creatures that detect the electrical impulses of fish, then slice and dice them for dinner.

“Today it’s rare to see large sawfish,” says Dr Barbara Wueringer, Principal Scientist and Director at Sharks And Rays Australia. “Most reports are three metres or smaller. But we could be wrong. There may still be some big ones out there.”

“If you report not seeing a sawfish that also helps us understand their range. With changes such as removal of gill net fisheries in the Great Barrier Reef we hope that some sawfish populations will bounce back.”

Sharks And Rays Australia and SCF Australia have teamed up to create National Sawfish Sighting Week, where Citizen Scientists can help to monitor the most threatened species in our waters. Participants can register their planned water activity beforehand, and report back afterwards, and they could win a spot on a sawfish research expedition.

Since 2019, Sharks And Rays Australia has been running a Citizen Science campaign asking the general public to submit their sawfish sightings. With over 1300 recorded sightings, this campaign is highly successful. But it only tells us where sawfish are, and where people encounter them.

National Sawfish Sighting Week goes a step further, as it not only provides information on where sawfish are, but also where they are not, when people look for them.

“The time is right to start National Sawfish Sighting Week, and we are hoping to turn this into an annual event that allows all of us to monitor sawfish populations in Australian waters”, says Dr Barbara Wueringer, Principal Scientist and Director at Sharks And Rays Australia.

“There are a lot of changes happening at the moment, for example the removal of gill net fisheries in the Great Barrier Reef. We expect sawfish populations to bounce back in some regions, but in other areas they won’t”.

Four species of sawfish are found in Northern Australia, which is why this campaign is restricted to Northern Australia’s coast, from north of Sydney to north of Perth. Sawfish are often encountered in coastal waters, and along shorelines and in rivers. Activities such as beach walking, boating, flying a drone, diving and fishing (without targeting sawfish) are permitted.

Registration opens on October 17, 2023 which is also International Sawfish Day, and closes on October 22, by midnight AEST. Activities have to take place between October 23 – 29, and be reported back by November 1.

To register, head over to www.saw.fish/sawfish-week



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