Here at the Rodney Fox Shark Museum and Learning Centre head curator Mark Tozer measures all the details of our sawfish rostrum reference collection.
We are working with the incredible Dr. Barbara Wueringer of Sharks and Rays Australia who is well known for her life researching and conserving such fascinating and rare Shark and Ray Species and especially for her adventurous forays out in the field . Please check out her website if you are interested in partaking voluntary field work with Barbara on some remote Northern Australian Coastline sometime.
From the data Mark took on each specimen Barbara was able to determine that we had represented the 4 different species of Sawfish around Australia, the age and length of each animal when it was unfortunately killed.
The specimen Mark is examining is from a freshwater sawfish (Pristis pristis) which was likely around 4.15m long and 11.6 years old. Some sawfish species can live for up to 90 years old and up to 6m in length, although they are extremely rare and vulnerable to capture at that size with their rostrums so easily able to be tangled in fishing nets.
Our next step is to get genetic samples from each specimen to help establish population structures of each species. This type of analysis is also something we have previously used our various shark jaw reference specimens for. Thankfully sawfish hunting as targeted trophy items is now prohibited and if anyone has further specimens they would like to donate to our museum collection please contact us.
The Rodney Fox Shark Museum is not yet open to the public. Future dates to be determined.