Records of Sawfishes from Fiji

Published on 1st December 2011

Review of records of sawfishes (Chondrichthyes: Pristidae) from Fiji,
with deletion of Pristis zijsron Bleeker, 1851 and Pristis sp. from the fauna

Clinton Duffy, Johnson Seeto and Tom Trnski


Sawfishes (Pristidae) are large shark-like batoids with a distinctive flattened, greatly elongated rostrum armed on each side with a row of large transverse teeth. Two genera and at least four species occur in the Indo-West Pacific, of which Anoxypristis cuspidata (Latham, 1794), Pristis microdon Latham, 1794 and P. zijsron Bleeker, 1851 have widespread distributions and P. clavata Garman, 1906 appears to be restricted to northern Australia (Compagno & Last, 1999; Last & Stevens, 2009; Phillips et al., 2011). All sawfishes are threatened by over fishing and habitat loss, with range reductions and local extinctions reported for several species (Simpfendorfer, 2000; Monte-Luna et al., 2007; Last & Stevens, 2009; Wueringer, et al. 2009; Phillips et al., 2011). All Indo-Pacific sawfishes are assessed by the IUCN as Critically Endangered with decreasing population trends (IUCN Red List of Threatened Species,, 10 Sep. 2011).

Sawfishes generally inhabit shallow inner shelf and coastal waters, as well as estuarine and freshwater habitats (Last & Stevens, 2009; Wueringer et al., 2009). The eastern distributional limit of sawfishes in the tropical Western Central Pacific is generally considered to encompass the Philippine Islands, Papua New Guinea, Bougainville and the northeast coast of Australia (Compagno & Last, 1999; Powell & Powell, 1999; Last & Stevens, 2009). However, Seeto & Baldwin (2010) reported P. zijsron and Pristis sp. from Fiji based upon the provenance of specimens held in the ichthyology collections of the Australian Museum Sydney (AMS) and Melbourne Museum, Museum Victoria (NMV) respectively. This represents a 3000 km eastwards range extension for the family. Given their conservation status and lack of contemporary records of sawfishes from Fiji or elsewhere in Oceania (Ryan 1980; Boseto 2006; Rasalato et al. 2010; Polidoro et al. 2011; B. Carlson, R Thaman, J. Brunnschweiler, M. Neumann pers. comm.; J.S. pers. obs.) it is important to confirm the identity and provenance of these specimens. We report that information herein.

All Fijian sawfish material held by the AMS and NMV proved to be dried rostra. These were identified to species using diagnostic morphological characters described by Compagno & Last (1999), Thorburn et al. (2007) and Last & Stevens (2009). The authors’ identifications of the NMV material were independently checked by N. Phillips, Murdoch University. Photographs and detailed measurements of this material are available from the senior author upon request. The AMS material was not measured in detail as it was only possible to examine photographs of the rostra. The measurements of rostral length and width reported here were made directly from a ruler included in the photographs for scale.

Zootaxa 3115: 65–67 (2011)




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