A Longcomb Sawfish (Pristis zijsron Bleeker, 1851) caught off the coast of Dibba, United Arab Emirates, Gulf of Oman

Note: This article was published in "Gazelle : The Palestinian Biological Bulletin" (ISSN 0178 - 6288). Twenty-seventh Year, Number 88, April 2009, Rabi'e Al Thani 1430, pp. 1 - 14.

By: Dr. Norman Ali Bassam Ali Taher Khalaf-Sakerfalke von Jaffa

The Dibba Sawfish. Foto: Abdu Allah Mihrez. 08/03/2009.

The Longcomb Sawfish (Pristis zijsron Bleeker, 1851) in Dibba, U.A.E.

A Longcomb Sawfish (Pristis zijsron Bleeker, 1851) was caught off the coast of Dibba, United Arab Emirates, Gulf of Oman on 08/03/2009.

The sawfish is called locally by different Arabic names: Samak Al-Sayyaf, Sayyaf, Abu Saif, Sayyafah, Samak Al-Minshar (Sawfish), Abu Minshar, Samak Al-Minshar thu Al-Misht Al-Taweel (Longcomb Sawfish); and Capak (by the Indians in the U.A.E).

Common Names:

Arabic (Emirates and Oman): Sayyaf, Abu Saif, Abu Minshar.

English: Longcomb Sawfish, Narrowsnout Sawfish, Green Sawfish.

French: Poisson-scie, Requin scie.

Spanish: Pejepeine, Pez Sierra.

Sindhi (Pakistan): Wakhan.

Tamil (India): Vella-sorrah, Vezha.

The Dibba Fishermen and the Sawfish. Foto: Abdu Allah Mihrez. 08/03/2009.

Taxonomic Notes:

The genus Pristis is taxonomically chaotic with uncertainty regarding the true number of valid species. The practical difficulties associated with resolving these taxonomic issues are acute, since it is extremely difficult to obtain specimens or tissue samples from these increasingly rare species for taxonomic research. P. zijsron is a member of the ‘Pristis pectinata complex’, probably also containing P. clavata, with narrow-based, less tapered, lighter rostral saws, with more numerous (usually over 23), smaller teeth than species of the Pristis pristis complex.

Red List Category:

Critically Endangered.

Year Assessed: 2006.

Assessors: Compagno, L.J.V., Cook, S.F. & Oetinger, M.I.

Justification: A very large, formerly common, Indo-West Pacific sawfish recorded mainly in inshore marine habitats, also reported from freshwater. Like all sawfishes, it is extremely vulnerable to capture by target and bycatch fishing throughout its range, which has contracted significantly as a result. All populations are now very seriously depleted, with records having become extremely infrequent over the last 30 to 40 years.

Range Description:

This Indo-Pacific species has been recorded from South Africa to the Arabian/Persian Gulf, Indian subcontinent, Southeast Asia and the Indo-Australian Archipelago. Freshwater records have been made from Thailand, possibly in the Tachin River and Songkhla Lake (where the species has not been recorded for many years), Malaysia, Indonesia (Kalimantan at Bandjermassing, Java and Ternate Islands) and in Australia from Queensland in Lake Macquarie, and New South Wales in the Clarence River.

Contraction of the range of this species has been reported in Australia, where green sawfish once occurred at least as far south as Sydney, but now are virtually extinct in New South Wales and are very rarely found south of Townsville, and in South Africa, where sawfishes are apparently no longer resident in areas such as Lake St Lucia.

Countries: Native:

Australia (New South Wales, Queensland); Cambodia; China; India; Indonesia (Java, Kalimantan); Malaysia; Mauritius; Mozambique; Myanmar; Oman; Emirates; Pakistan; Papua New Guinea; Somalia; South Africa; Sri Lanka; Thailand; Viet Nam.

                                                                                                                                                                              FAO Marine Fishing Areas: Native:

Western Indian Ocean; eastern Indian Ocean; northwest Pacific; western central Pacific.

The Dibba Sawfish. Foto: Abdu Allah Mihrez. 08/03/2009.

Population:

No information available on original population size or abundance, but this formerly common very large sawfish has undergone significant contraction of its range and a huge decline in abundance in areas where it is still reported to occur.

Population Trend: Decreasing.

Habitat and Ecology:

Pristis zijsron inhabits muddy bottom habitats and enters estuaries. It has been recorded in inshore marine waters to at least 40 m depth, in brackish water (estuaries and coastal lakes) and in rivers. This species was frequently found in shallow water. Its habitat is heavily fished and often also subject to pollution, habitat loss and degradation from coastal, riverine and catchment developments.           

This is the largest sawfish species, growing to at least 5 m and possibly over 7.3 meters long. Males are mature by 430 cm. It is ovoviviparous, giving birth to large young. It was suggested that adult males use their saws during mating battles. Sawfishes generally feed on slow-moving shoaling fish such as mullet, which are stunned by sideswipes of the snout. Molluscs and small crustaceans are also swept out of the sand and mud by the saw. A male captured as a juvenile survived 35 years in captivity.

Systems: Freshwater; Marine.

Major Threats:

This species has been exploited intensively, both as a target species and as incidental bycatch in commercial, sport or shark-control net fisheries and for aquarium display throughout its range. As a result of past landings, combined with its strongly K-selected life history pattern, it has become severely depleted in recent decades and now appears to have been extirpated from many parts of its range, including South Africa, Sri Lanka and Malaysia. It also has not been seen in some of its former freshwater habitats (i.e., Songklha Lake, (Malay Peninsula) Thailand for some 30 to 40 years. The species is probably now only easy to find in Australia, where it is commonly entangled in net gear set for barramundi (Lates calcarifer), considered a good eating species for human consumption and finds ready markets where landed. Even in Australia, the species has declined significantly in range and abundance. In the past, net fishermen working the muddy estuaries of the Queensland coastline found high bycatch of Pristis zijsron to be a serious problem, even though the meat was high quality and marketed. An average of 0.0020 Pristis zijsron (standard deviation of 0.0020) per hour trawled per km of headrope length (n/h/km) were taken as bycatch in the Northern Prawn Fishery in the Gulf of Carpentaria in 1997 to 1998. In the Moreton Bay area there have been no reports of this species since the 1960s. It has also been extremely rare anywhere on the east coast of Australia in the last 25 to 30 years, with no new specimens having been secured by museum and research institute collections.

Conservation Actions:

India’s Ministry of Environment and Forests has protected sawfishes under the Wildlife Protection Act (WPA) 1972 since 2001.      

This species may occur in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, Australia.   

The species was listed as an Endangered Species in New South Wales (Australia) waters in 1999, under the Fisheries Management Act 1994.       

Listed as Endangered by the Australian Society for Fish Biology.    

Nominated and considered for listing as Vulnerable under the Commonwealth's Endangered Species Protection Act 1992, but listing not made because of lack of information.

Actions needed:

Strict legal protection throughout range; monitoring of bycatch; collection of biological and demographic data from accidental captures and aquarium specimens.

The Dibba Sawfish. Foto: Abdu Allah Mihrez. 08/03/2009.

References and Internet Websites:

A Sawfish caught from Dibba Sea on 08/03/2009.         www.tsahel.com/vb/f38/sawshark-capak-580.html                                                 

Adams, W.F. and C. Wilson (1995). The status of the smalltooth sawfish, Pristis pectinata Latham 1794 (Pristiformes: Pristidae), in the United States.  Chondros 6(4):1-5.                                                                                                                                                    

Bigelow, H.B. and W.C. Schroeder (1953). Sawfishes, guitarfishes, skates and rays.  Pp. 1 - 514 in: Tee-Van, J., C.M. Breder, A.E. Parr, W.C. Schroeder, and L.P. Schultz (eds.).  Fishes of the Western North Atlantic, Part Two. Mem. Sear Found. Mar. Res. I.                                     

Breder, C.M. (1952). On the utility of the saw of the sawfish. Copeia 1952 (2):90 - 91.       

Catching the sawfish in Dibba.     http://sci.jamaa.cc/art23734.html                                  

Common names of Pristis zijsron.   www.fishbase.org/comnames/CommonNamesList.php?ID=7956&GenusName=Pristis&SpeciesName=zijsron&StockCode=8267                                                              

Compagno, L.J.V. and P.R. Last (1999). Pristidae. Sawfishes. p. 1410-1417. In: K.E. Carpenter and V. Niem (eds.) FAO identification guide for fishery purposes. The Living Marine Resources of the Western Central Pacific. FAO, Rome.                                               

Compagno, L.J.V., Cook, S.F. & Oetinger, M.I. (2006). Pristis zijsron. In: IUCN 2009. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2009.1.          <http://www.iucnredlist.org/>. http://forum.te3p.com/279735.html                                                                                   

Demersal Fish.          www.arabianwildlife.com/nature/marine/fsh02.html&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Fishbase<I>. Pristis zijsron</I> Longcomb sawfish.                           www.fishbase.org/Summary/SpeciesSummary.php?ID=7956                                         

GREEN SAWFISH.  www.flmnh.ufl.edu/fish/Gallery/Descript/GreenSawfish/GreenSawfish.htm    

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Khalaf-Sakerfalke von Jaffa, Norman Ali Bassam Ali Taher (Gründer) (seit September 2007). Yahoo! Deutschland Group: Fauna Arabica.        http://de.groups.yahoo.com/group/Fauna_Arabica/                                                Khalaf-Sakerfalke von Jaffa, Norman Ali Bassam Ali Taher (2007). Haywanat Filistin (Fauna of Palestine). Wikipedia, Al-Mawsu'a Al-Hurra (The Free Encyclopedia). Gazelle: The Palestinian Biological Bulletin. Number 69, Twenty-fifth Year, September 2007 CE, Sha’ban 1428 AH. pp. 1-4. (in Arabic).           http://ar.wikipedia.org/wiki/%D8%AD%D9%8A%D9%88%D8%A7%D9%86%D8%A7%D8%AA_%D9%81%D9%84%D8%B3%D8%B7%D9%8A%D9%86
Khalaf-Sakerfalke von Jaffa, Dr. Sc. Norman Ali Bassam Ali Taher (2007). A Whale Shark (Rhincodon typus, Smith 1828) caught off the Kuwaiti Coast: The Second Record from the State of Kuwait, Arabian / Persian Gulf. Gazelle: The Palestinian Biological Bulletin. Number 71, November 2007. pp. 1-20. Sharjah, United Arab Emirates. (Abstracts in English and Arabic).         http://www.geocities.com/jaffacity/Whale_Shark_Kuwait.html
Khalaf-Sakerfalke von Jaffa, Dr. Sc. Norman Ali Bassam Ali Taher (2007). Rhiniodon typus Smith, 1828 or Rhincodon typus Smith, 1829: The Story of a Scientific Name. Gazelle: The Palestinian Biological Bulletin. Number 71, November 2007. pp. 21. Sharjah, United Arab Emirates.            http://www.geocities.com/jaffacity/Rhiniodon_Rhincodon.html  
Khalaf-Sakerfalke von Jaffa, Dr. Sc. Norman Ali Bassam Ali Taher (2007). Whale Sharks in Palestinian Waters: A Whale Shark (Rhincodon typus, Smith 1828) rescued near the Tantura Beach, Carmel Coast, North Palestine: The First Record from the Palestinian Mediterranean Coast. Gazelle: The Palestinian Biological Bulletin. Number 71, November 2007. pp. 22-23. Sharjah, United Arab Emirates. (Abstracts in English and Arabic).            http://www.geocities.com/jaffacity/Whale_Shark_Palestine.html
Khalaf-Sakerfalke von Jaffa, Dr. Sc. Norman Ali Bassam Ali Taher (2007). Whale Sharks in Palestinian Waters: Whale Sharks (Rhincodon typus, Smith 1828) near Um Al-Rashrash (Eilat) Beach, Gulf of Aqaba, South Palestine: First Records from the Palestinian Red Sea Coast. Gazelle: The Palestinian Biological Bulletin. Number 71, November 2007. pp. 23-26. Sharjah, United Arab Emirates. (Abstract in English and Arabic). http://www.geocities.com/jaffacity/Whale_Shark_Palestine.html                           

Khalaf-Sakerfalke von Jaffa, Dr. Sc. Norman Ali Bassam Ali Taher (2007). An Ocean Sunfish or Common Mola (Mola mola, Linnaeus 1758) caught off the coast of Gaza: The First Record from Palestine, East Mediterranean Sea. Gazelle: The Palestinian Biological Bulletin. Number 72, December 2007, pp. 1-16. (Abstracts in English and Arabic). http://www.geocities.com/jaffacity/Gaza_Ocean_Sunfish.html                                    

Dr. Sc. Norman Ali Bassam Ali Taher Khalaf-Sakerfalke von Jaffa, Zoologist, Ecologist and Geologist : The Scientific References (1980-2008).      http://www.geocities.com/jaffacity/Khalaf_References.html                                       

Khalaf-Sakerfalke von Jaffa, Dr.Sc. Norman Ali Bassam Ali Taher (2009). A Longcomb Sawfish (Pristis zijsron Bleeker, 1851) caught off the coast of Dibba, United Arab Emirates, Gulf of Oman. Gazelle: The Palestinian Biological Bulletin. ISSN 0178 - 6288. Twenty-seventh Year, Number 88, April 2009, Rabi’e Al Thani 1430 AH. pp. 1-14.        http://dibba-sawfish.webs.com/                     

Last, P.R. and J.D. Stevens (1994). Sharks and Rays of Australia. CSIRO, Australia. 513 pp.                                                                                                                                         

Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, United Arab Emirates & Cultural Foundation, Abu Dhabi (2003). Fishes of the United Arab Emirates (Asmak Al-Emarat Al-Arabia Al-Mutaheda). Cultural Foundation Publications, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.pps. 255. (in Arabic).                                                                                                                                  

National Marine Fisheries Service (2000). Status review of the smalltooth sawfish (Pristis pectinata).                                                                                                                                            

Organism: Pristis zijsron.            http://ctd.mdibl.org/detail.go?type=taxon&acc=495877  

Pristis pectinata Smalltooth Sawfish. http://www.sms.si.edu/irlspec/Pristi_pectin.htm 

Pristis zijsron Bleeker, 1851. Longcomb sawfish. http://www.eol.org/pages/213650 

Pristis zijsron Bleeker, 1851. Longcomb Sawfish.       www.discoverlife.org/mp/20o?search=Pristis+zijsron                                                     

Pristis zijsron.      http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/classification/Pristis_zijsron.html                                                                                                                                                      

Pristis zijsron (Narrownose Smooth Hound).       http://zipcodezoo.com/Animals/P/Pristis_zijsron/                                                           

Pristis zijsron  Bleeker, 1851.        www.itis.gov/servlet/SingleRpt/SingleRpt?search_topic=TSN&search_value=564305

Sawfish.       http://kuwaitmarinelife.com/?p=55                                                                

SawShark-Capak.     www.tsahel.com/vb/f38/sawshark-capak-580.html            

Simpfendorfer, C.A. (2000). Predicting population recovery rates for endangered Western Atlantic sawfishes using demographic analysis. Environmental Biology of Fishes. 58:371-377.                                                                                                                           

Stehmann, M. (1981). Pristidae. In: W. Fischer, G. Bianchi, and W.B. Scott (eds.) FAO species identification sheets for fishery purposes. Eastern Central Atlantic Fishing Areas 34, 47 (in part). Vol. 5.                                                                                                                         

Strange fish caught in Yanbu, Saudi Arabia.           http://www.animalpicturesarchive.com/view.php?tid=2&did=31436                             

The Sawfish in Dibba.     http://www.thelegend.net/vb/t73032.html                               

The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Pristis pectinata.         www.iucnredlist.org/details/18175                                                                                            

The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Pristis zijsron.         http://www.iucnredlist.org/details/39393                                                                         

United Arab Emirates Map. www.cleartrip.com/SmallWorld/maps/wg-united-arab-emirates-3619-400x300.gif                                                                                           

Wikipedia. Longcomb sawfish. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Longcomb_sawfish 

Wikipedia. Pristis zijsron.       http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pristis_zijsron            

Wikispecies. Pristis zijsron. http://species.wikimedia.org/wiki/Pristis_zijsron