Wednesday, March 25, 2015

NEW: multilingual sawfish identification guides now available and in use in multiple countries!

Five species of sawfish exist today. However, each species is under threat of extinction. Research and conservation efforts are underway in a number of countries including the United States, Australia and Mozambique. However, to the untrained eye, sawfish can be difficult to tell apart and this can hinder conservation efforts. In their ‘Global Sawfish Conservation Strategy’, the IUCN suggested that the development of a species identification guide was a necessary step to further sawfish conservation. The Sawfish Conservation Society (SCS) has therefore developed multiple guides for all species of sawfish. Already, these guides have been distributed within Australia, Peru, Ecuador, Mozambique, The Gambia and Liberia.

Fishers in Mozambique being interviewed by local researchers with the assistance of the identification guides.
The different sawfish identification guides constructed by the SCS vary in layout and depth of detail. While researchers familiar with the features of a fish may find the “Detailed” guide more appropriate and more informative, fishers with little time to spare to identify a sawfish may find the “Quick and Easy” guide more useful. Still yet, the “Poster” guide may prove to be visually more appealing when posted at a marina or boat ramp. In addition, these guides can be transformed into a brochure/tri-fold pamphlet by printing them on the opposite side of the “Pamphlet Backing” and folding in thirds.

The four different identification guides and the pamphlet backing now available on the SCS website.

Each guide lists a number of features on the sawfish body and saw that are the most useful in identifying each species. Although a single feature can sometimes be used to identify a species, it is best to use multiple features to ensure accurate identification. In addition to listing these features, when combined with the pamphlet backing, each guide presents details of how to help conserve sawfish, where to report sawfish encounters and provides information regarding the SCS.

Currently, the identification guides are available in English, Spanish, French and Portuguese. We also have plans to offer additional languages including, at a minimum, Brazilian Portuguese and Arabic. Each guide has also been formatted to fit on Letter and A4 sized paper. All guides, languages and formats are available here on the SCS website.

Students learning how to identify sawfishes during a school visit by SCS volunteers.

While the standard guides are available online in a PDF version, these guides can be customized for specific purposes. Customizations can include the addition of a company’s logo and contact details, narrowing of the number of species present on the guide (useful if only a few species occur within an area where the guides will be distributed) or translation of the guide into a specific language not yet provided. Interested parties should contact the SCS at to inquire about such changes. In addition, printing of the PDFs available online can result in some pixilation of images when printed on some printers. If this should occur, please contact the SCS at the above address and a Word document will be sent to you to remedy this issue.

Many thanks are owed to the numerous people that have helped in the making and distribution of the identification guides. Most notably, these people include Nicole Phillips and Barbara Wueringer who assisted in the design of the guides, Ruth Leeney, Vanessa Figueroa, Rachel Graham, Ruth Higgins, Jeremy Kiszka and Jaime Penad├ęs Suay who were vital in the translation of the guides, and Dana Bethea, John Carlson, David Morgan, Jason Stapley and Dean Thorburn whose photos are displayed within the guides.

If you have a suggestion on how to improve these guides, find a mistype or would like to assist in translating these guides into another language please contact the SCS at

Sawfish identification pamphlets available at information centers, fishing stores and truck stops throughout Western Australia.

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