Sawfish sweep launched
Researchers are calling for as much information on sawfish as they can gather.
Forty years ago, sawfish were regularly seen off Sydney and the east coast, and Perth and up the west coast. Today, they rarely appear outside of the Gulf of Carpentaria, NT and the Kimberley.
Scientists at Sharks and Rays Australia (SARA) want any and all sightings to be reported - a live fish, a sawfish on the wall of the local pub, or even a photo from a family album.
Anyone can report their sightings at https://saw.fish
“Your sightings, no matter how long ago they happened, will help us work out how many sawfish there used to be, how many remain, and how we can help them recover,” says Dr Barbara Wueringer, a zoologist and SARA director.
“Today it’s rare to see large sawfish,” she said.
“Most reports are three metres or smaller. But we could be wrong. There may still be some big ones out there.
“For four out of five species, the waters of Northern Australia may contain their last populations. As sawfish are slowly retreating to remote parts of the continent it’s critical that we find out what’s out there, and how we can help them.”
Dr Wueringer’s investigation will traverse Queensland to identify where sawfish still occur and in what numbers.
“We’re working with local Indigenous Ranger groups, fishers, and landowners, and with scientists from around the world,” she said.
“But to make a real difference we’re now calling for wider public participation. Through this citizen science initiative you can make the difference to sawfish survival.”
SARA is based in Cairns. Their research is supported by the Save Our Seas Foundation (based in Geneva) and the US-based Shark Conservation Fund.