Coral Reefs, Sand, Inshore, Nearshore
1100 - 1300 pounds
20" - 23"
The largetooth sawfish is a ray that has a chainsaw-like rostrum that has anywhere from 14-24 separated teeth on each side. This elongated snout is swung from one side to the other to stun their prey. They are known to commonly reach lengths over 20 feet long and are easily differentiated by the broader spacing of their 'teeth' compared to similar sawfish species.
The top of the largetooth sawfish is generally grey to yellowish-brown but may have a reddish color in freshwater. The underbelly is greyish-white and the dorsal may have a pale yellow hue with a reddish tip.
The largetooth sawfish is recorded at reaching lengths of 20 feet long and may grow up to 23 feet. They commonly weigh between 1,100-1300 pounds.
The largetooth sawfish and its cousin, the smalltooth sawfish (P. pectinata), are the only two related species to have been identified as living in the western Atlantic Ocean. Both species once covered a variety of ecosystems - from the Caribbean to Central and South America, Africa, and freshwater habitats in the eastern Atlantic Ocean.
Now that this large fish is currently endangered due to overfishing, its actual modern-day distribution is quite uncertain. The largetooth sawfish are thought to have been rooted out from the waters of Florida where it once thrived. There are sparse sightings in the Gulf of Mexico, Central America, Northern Brazil, and a few West African areas.
The largetooth sawfish has been reportedly spotted in rivers as far as 830 mi away from the ocean and adults are primarily found in deltas and inland waters at depths between 33 and 82 ft. These highly adaptable rays are normally located in places where the bottoms sand, mud, or silt. Their preferred temperature of the water is between 75-90 degrees Fahrenheit.
Reproduction happens through internal fertilization. Sawfish are ovoviviparous, meaning their young develop in eggs within the body of the female, and a yolk sac provides nourishment, lasting from several months to a year. The pups are born fully developed with a fully formed saw, but it is protected with a sheath of tissue and remains pliable to ensure the mother’s safety during birth.
It has been recorded that with a 50-60 pound test leader, bigger circular hooks, and fairly wider cuts of live bait, catching sawfish is accomplished. It is most likely that they will be captured during the fall and winter seasons.
However, since largetooth sawfish are endangered, it is illegal to purposefully fish or handles them unless granted a researcher permitted by authorities. While anglers have long considered the largetooth sawfish to be a prize game fish, they can be dangerous due to their size and saw.
If accidentally caught while fishing, it must be released immediately, avoiding taking it completely out of the water or placing it on the boat. If the lines or net are tangled around the fish, exercise extreme caution and cut as closely as safety permits. Anglers should not cut the rostrum or dismember the fish before releasing it back into the water. If accidentally caught, reporting its sighting to the authorities is highly encouraged to track the sawfish’s recovery process.