Common Sawshark, Pristiophorus cirratus Click to enlarge image
An 85 cm long Common Sawshark bought at Sydney Fish Markets by Bernard Yau, April 2003 (AMS I.42632-001) Image: Sally Reader
© Australian Museum

Fast Facts

  • Classification
    Species
    cirratus
    Genus
    Pristiophorus
    Family
    Pristiophoridae
    Order
    Pristiophoriformes
    Class
    Actinopterygii
    Subphylum
    Vertebrata
    Phylum
    Chordata
    Kingdom
    Animalia
  • Size Range
    The Common Sawshark grows to at least 1.49 m in length.

Introduction

The Common Sawshark has a long tapering saw-shaped snout with 19 to 25 large teeth on each side. It is endemic to Australia.


  • Common Sawshark, Pristiophorus cirratus
    An 85 cm long Common Sawshark bought at Sydney Fish Markets by BernardYau, April 2003 (AMS I.42632-001) Image: Sally Reader
    © Australian Museum
  • Common Sawshark, Pristiophorus cirratus.
    Common Sawshar, Pristiophorus cirratus. Image: Sally Reader
    © Australian Museum

What do Common Sawsharks look like?

Identification

The Common Sawshark is a slender fish with two dorsal fins. It has a large mouth with rows of small teeth. The long tapering saw-shaped snout has 19 to 25 large teeth on each side and a pair of barbels. These barbels are slightly closer to the snout tip than the mouth. It has five gill slits on either side of the head.

This species is yellowish to grey/brown above and white below. There are darker bands on the dorsal surface and dark spots The sides of the saw are often darker.



Where do Common Sawsharks live?

Distribution

It is endemic to Australia. It occurs in continental shelf and slope waters (100 m - 630 m) from Coffs Harbour, northern New South Wales to Jurien Bay, south-western Western Australia, including Tasmania.

Both the Common Sawshark and Southern Sawshark, Pristiophorus nudipinnis, occur in Australia's southern temperate waters. The Tropical Sawshark, Pristiophorus delicatus, is known from tropical waters off north-eastern Australia.

The map below shows the Australian distribution of the species based on public sightings and specimens in Australian Museums. Source: Atlas of Living Australia.



What do Common Sawsharks eat and what is their life cycle?

Feeding and diet

Common Sawsharks feed on small fishes and crustaceans.

Life history

The Common Sawshark is born at 35-38cm and can grow to 1.4m. Males mature at ~97cm TL while females mature at ~107cm TL.

They are aplacental viviparious (give birth to live young that develop from eggs in the female) and produce biennially on average 10 pups per litter after a gestation period of 12 months. Common Sawsharks are thought to live for 15 years.


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References

  1. Bray, D.J. 2017, Pristiophorus cirratus in Fishes of Australia, accessed 05 Aug 2022, https://fishesofaustralia.net.au/home/species/2018
  2. Ebert, D.A., Fowler, S., Compagno, L., 2016. Sharks of the World, Wild Nature Press, pages 1-528
  3. Last, P.R. & J.D. Stevens. 2009. Sharks and Rays of Australia. Edition 2. CSIRO. Pp. 644, Pl. 1-91.