Sharks & Rays
Gravel and sandy bottoms
Order Pristiophoriformes (sawsharks), Family Pristiophoridae (sawsharks)
The longnose sawshark is one of seven species of sawsharks, noted for their long, flat rostrum (snout) that is covered with several large teeth on its left and right sides giving it the shape of a saw blade. This saw distinguishes sawsharks from all other species of fishes except the sawfishes.
Though they look superficially very similar, the sawfishes are rays (not sharks) and can be distinguished from sawsharks by two easy to see characteristics. Like all sharks, the sawsharks’ pectoral fins (those on the side) are not connected to the head. Like all rays, the sawfishes’ pectoral fins are fused to the head. Second, the sawsharks have long barbels attached to their saws; the sawfishes do not. With these differences in mind, it is easy to identify a sawshark. The sawsharks have relatively small distributions, and the longnose sawshark is restricted to southern Australia. It is an active predator and uses its saw to both dig prey out of sandy bottoms and to slash swimming prey by aggressively moving its head from side to side. The saw is also covered with specialized cells that can detect the electric field put off by other fishes, helping it to locate buried prey. The preferred prey of the longnose sawshark is small fishes, but they will also eat some benthic invertebrates.
Longnose sawsharks are not targeted by fishers but are occasionally accidentally caught in fisheries for other species. However, this accidental catch is limited, and populations are stable, so scientists consider the longnose sawshark to be a species of least concern meaning it currently faces zero threat of going extinct.
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