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Resembling miniature sawfishes, sawsharks are a small group of bottom sharks with five species in a single family. The sawshark snout may be used to disable prey. All species hatch young from eggs within the body.

Appearance: Sawsharks have long, flat, bladelike snouts, edged with slender, needle-sharp teeth and a pair of long barbels in front of the nostrils. They have two dorsal fins and no anal fin, short transverse mouths and small teeth in both jaws.

Longnose sawshark Pristiophorus cirratus
Longnose sawshark

Size: Less than six feet long.

Habitat: Moderate depths on continental shelves and upper slopes, on mud, sand, and gravel bottoms. The Bahamas sawshark ranges down to a depth of 3,000 ft.

Distribution: Different species occur in the western Pacific, the western North Atlantic, the southeastern Atlantic, and the western Indian oceans.

Diet: Small fishes, crustaceans, and squid.

Shark bite: Sawsharks show segregation by depth within populations, with adults in deeper water than young.

Five Species

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© | Updated June 2002