Tags: Taxonomy,  Saw Sharks 

Saw Sharks

Order: Pristiophoriformes

Sawsharks resemble sawfish, with a long, toothy, sword-like snout to find and slash their prey. They have long nasal barbels, or mustache-like appendages, extending from the middle of the long snout that are very sensitive. The Sawshark's barbels, together with electro-receptors (ampullae of Lorenzini) on the underside of the saw, are used to sense prey buried in the sand. Sawsharks use the saw to uncover and disable the prey, which they then take into their small mouths.

Common Sawshark

Pristiophorus cirratus

Characteristics of Saw Sharks

# of Species

Body shape
Slightly flattened, long and slender. Grows to 5 feet.
Mouth position
Long, blade-like, toothy snout; small, transverse mouth
Anal fin
Dorsal Fin
Fin spines
# of Gill slits
5 (Sixgill Sawshark has 6 gills)
Ovoviviparous. Between 7 and 17 pups per litter.
Unique qualities
Long snout; long nasal barbels
Marine habitats, although temperate species inhabit estuaries and shallow bays;
Range from temperate to tropical zones: western Atlantic (Florida, Bahamas, and
Cuba), the southwestern Indian Ocean (off South Africa), and the western Pacific
(from southern Australia and Japan)
Small fish, crustaceans, squid

The 9 Species of Saw Shark


Common name

Pliotrema warreni

Sixgill Sawshark

Pristiophorus cirratus

Longnose Sawshark

Pristiophorus japonicus

Japanese Sawshark

Pristiophorus nudipinnis

Shortnose Sawshark

Pristiophorus schroederi

Bahamas Sawshark

Pristiophorus sp. A

Eastern Sawshark

Pristiophorus sp. B

Tropical Sawshark

Pristiophorus sp.

Philippine Sawshark

Pristiophorus sp.

Dwarf Sawshark (western Indian Ocean)


Red indicates inclusion on the IUCN Red List of Endangered Species