After six days of “intense negotiations,” the Convention on the Conservation on Migratory Species (CMS)—an international treaty under the United Nations Environment Program specializing in migratory species—closed its Eleventh Meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP) in Quito, Ecuador with good news for global wildlife conservation. Delegates from more than 100 countries agreed on protections for 31 different terrestrial, avian, and aquatic species, including safeguards for a record 21 species of sharks, rays, and sawfish.
You may not have heard of sawfish, an incredibly unique looking family of rays. As a flat fish with a long toothed snout (rostrum) lined with teeth that looks like a saw, sawfish have earned their name. Despite their large size (up to 20 feet long!) and those intimidating teeth, sawfish are in trouble.
- Scientists previously mistook a deep-sea creature with 6.5 foot long tentacles to be one of the oceans’ largest sea anemones, but DNA research reveals that this animal is part of a new order of marine organisms. This new order of Cnidaria—a phylum that includes jellyfish, corals, sea anemones, and their relatives—now includes stony corals, anemones, and black corals. Science Daily
Sawfish have a reason to breathe a little easier today: The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) has completed comprehensive status reviews under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), and has determined that five foreign species of sawfish meet the definition of “endangered” under the Act. Of course, this “victory” is bittersweet: no one is celebrating the fact that sawfish species are endangered, but rather that they now will finally receive the protections they so desperately need to recover their numbers.