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Sawflies on the final straight to total extinction?

Sawfishes – a family of extremely distinctive fish have found themselves on the brink of extinction. According to the BBC, sawfishes are now among the most endangered fish inhabiting the oceans. The results of recent studies paint an extremely depressing picture. Sawfish were once found along the coasts of as many as ninety countries, and
Published: February 12, 2021 - 09:00
Updated: July 22, 2023 - 21:59
Sawflies on the final straight to total extinction?

Sawfishes – a family of extremely distinctive fish have found themselves on the brink of extinction. According to the BBC, sawfishes are now among the most endangered fish inhabiting the oceans.

The results of recent studies paint an extremely depressing picture. Sawfish were once found along the coasts of as many as ninety countries, and it is now thought that in more than half of these countries the individual species are now extinct.

The reason for this sudden and adverse turn of events is the loss of habitat and the extremely high incidence of entanglement in fishing nets, resulting in death. Researchers say that their distinctive ‘saws’, which evolved to detect and attack prey, have now become a liability, making them vulnerable to being snagged and entangled in fishing gear.

Of the five sawfly species, three are critically endangered and two are listed as threatened, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species. A recent study found that previously widely distributed, sawflies are now thought to be extinct in as many as 55 countries.

It turns out that there are as many as eighteen countries where at least one species of sawfish is extinct and as many as twenty-eight countries where two species are extinct. The list of countries where sawfish are extinct includes China, Iraq, Haiti, Japan, East Timor, El Salvador, Taiwan, Djibouti and Brunei.

The United States and Australia seem to be the last bastions of these species, where sawfish are better protected and thus can still be found in the waters there.

The study, published in Science Advances, also identified eight countries where immediate conservation action could make a big contribution to saving sawflies. These are Cuba, Tanzania, Colombia, Madagascar, Panama, Brazil, Mexico and Sri Lanka.

Although the situation is dire, researchers still hope to save the sawfish in their natural waters. According to the scientists, with the right actions it is still possible to restore the sawfish to more than 70% of its historical range, but action needs to start now.

The whole situation is certainly not improved by the fact that the fins and teeth of sawfish are sold as trophies, food or medicine and as spurs for cockfights.

Photo: Wikipedia.org CC BY 2.5

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About author

Tomasz Andrukajtis
Editor-in-chief of the DIVERS24 portal and magazine. Responsible for obtaining, translating and developing content. He also supervises all publications. Achived his first diving certification – P1 CMAS, in 2000. Has a degree in journalism and social communication. In the diving industry since 2008.
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