Smalltooth sawfish become critically endangered species

Reporter: Gina Tomlinson Writer: Jack Lowenstein
Published: Updated:
Photo by NOAA Fisheries.

Dangerous yet majestic sea creatures are rapidly disappearing due to over fishing in the last century.

Smalltooth sawfish are now critically endangered, but the majority of what’s left can be found right here in Southwest Florida.

“You don’t catch them too often,” Bobby Birch said.

Bobby birch has actually caught and released two of these sea creatures during his time as a charter boat captain in Fort Myers.

“When it got up to the boat, and this thing was at least probably 18 foot, no exaggeration,” Birch said. “This thing was huge.”

Sawfish have been in the endangered species list for 15 years and now National Marine Fisheries Service, more commonly known as NOAA Fisheries, is ramping up efforts to try and save the population.

“If we can protect the core, the hope is that they’ll start spreading out from that core to some of their historical range,” said Biologist Adam Brame of NOAA Fisheries.

Brame is working to educate the public and encourage people who spot the species to report.

Sawfish sightings are rare, but in the chance you cast your pole out there and happen to reel one in, Brame said it’s best to keep the fish in the water.

“You’re never allowed to possess an endangered species, so by removing it from the water you’re now in possession of it,” Brame said.

It is also recommended to cut the line and not to remove the hook for safety reasons.

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