Occurrence and habitat use of the critically endangered smalltooth sawfish in the Bahamas
First published online on 28 December 2015
Occurrence and habitat use of the critically endangered smalltooth sawfish Pristis pectinata in the Bahamas
T. L. Guttridge, S. J. B. Gulak, B. R. Franks, J. K. Carlson, S. H. Gruber, K. S. Gledhill, M. E. Bond, G. Johnson, R. D. Grubbs
This study documents and discusses recent (2002–2015) sightings and captures of smalltooth sawfish Pristis pectinata in the Bahamas. Movement patterns and habitat preferences of five P. pectinata are examined: two tracked with acoustic telemetry in Bimini and three tagged with pop-up archival transmitting tags in Andros. Historically, P. pectinata may have been distributed throughout the Bahamas; however, since 2002 only 61 encounters were recorded including: Andros (30), Bimini (19) and a handful across other Islands (12). In Bimini, all P. pectinata were >225 cm (stretched total length, LST) suggesting that it is not used as a nursery area. Pristis pectinata in Andros ranged from c. 80 to 450 cm (LST) indicating that this island might be an important nursery and breeding habitat. Pristis pectinata tracked in both islands remained at depths <3 m, often adjacent to mangrove habitats, displaying residency from 42 days (Bimini) to 180 days (Andros). These preliminary findings confirm the Bahamas as an important habitat for P. pectinata and emphasize the urgent need for national protection and management of this population.
Journal of Fish Biology, Volume 87, Issue 6, DOI: 10.1111/jfb.12825