Friday, December 5, 2014

Introducing: The International Sawfish Encounter Database

At the Florida Program for Shark Research, our efforts focus primarily on the study and conservation of Florida's current remaining sawfish species, the smalltooth sawfish. The smalltooth sawfish (Pristis pectinata) is one of five sawfish species living in tropical and subtropical rivers, lakes, and coastal areas worldwide. They are a fish characterized by long life, slow growth, late maturity, and low fecundity, making them extremely vulnerable to any changes that may reduce their population.

The International Sawfish Encounter Database (ISED) was formerly housed at Mote Marine Laboratory, and has since been transferred to the Florida Program for Shark Research (FPSR) at the Florida Museum of Natural History (FLMNH). The ISED has integrated the Mote database with four other sawfish databases: one from the FLMNH, two from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, and another database from a private sawfish aficionado. As a result, all existing information regarding U.S. smalltooth sawfish is now held in one place (FLMNH) under the ISED. The information from the sawfish encounter reports is entered into the database and used for monitoring the smalltooth sawfish population. This information assists in the evaluation of the species abundance and habitat range, helping us not only to estimate the population size but also to identify their habitat preferences. This type of information is vital for the recovery of the U.S. smalltooth sawfish population, and greatly assists in conservation efforts.  Additionally, the ISED maintains records of both current and historic international sightings and captures.

The Florida Program for Shark Research is directed by George Burgess who oversees the main functions of the ISED, and the database itself is managed by Monica Clerio.
To report a sawfish sighting or capture, please click on the link below and fill out our questionnaire. Thank you!

George Burgess (left) and Monica Clerio (right).

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