Sunday, November 9, 2014

Introducing: Australia's Northern Territory sawfish research group

Northern Australia represents one of the last population strongholds for sawfishes anywhere in the world; four of the world’s five species are found here. The Northern Territory (NT) sits within the middle of that core population area, but sawfish occurrence and status remains poorly-known. The National Environment Research Program’s Marine Biodiversity Hub ( is leading a project to improve the understanding and management of sawfishes (as well as river sharks). The project involves telemetry studies to track sawfish, genetic studies and fishery-independent surveys.

Project partners, Charles Darwin University, NT Fisheries and the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) along with key collaborators Kakadu National Park and the Malak Malak Traditional Owners and Ranger Group have been surveying Pristis pristis (commonly known as the largetooth sawfish or freshwater sawfish) in various river systems of the NT, in particular the Daly, Adelaide and South Alligator Rivers. The team is currently working on refining the northern Australian population structure of P. pristis using whole mitogenome sequencing, reviewing the occurrence of dwarf sawfish (Pristis clavata) in NT waters, and examining movement and habitat use of juvenile largetooth sawfish. A PhD student is examining the impact and conservation benefits of displaying sawfish in Australian domestic aquariums.
The project’s research aims to assist the Australian Commonwealth Department of the Environment to manage and ultimately recover sawfish populations.

For more information, visit:
Contact: Peter Kyne (peter.kyne AT

Peter Kyne holds a juvenile largetooth sawfish. Photo: M. Lawrence-Taylor

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