Explore is a philanthropic media organization

Shark Fact #4: Freshwater Sawfish

Fantastic Fact: The sawfish is an osmoregulator, i.e., it is able to adapt to living in salt, brackish, and fresh water.

This fish’s “saw” is an important tool that has become adapted for both feeding and as a formidable defensive weapon. The sawfish defends itself against fish much larger than itself, often inflicting lethal wounds with its saw. Swimming into a school of fish, it swings its saw rapidly from side to side to impale, stun, or kill fish in the school. It scrapes fish caught on the saw against the bottom to dislodge them for a meal. It retrieves the fish that are left dead or wounded on the bottom to eat at its leisure. The saw is also used as a digging tool to probe in mud and sand in search of crustaceans and other small invertebrates.

Watch for feeding time on the Shark Lagoon Live Cam. Dinner is fed to this ray attached to the end of a pole. Because the nurse sharks also like mullet and try to steal the sawfish’s dinner, they have to be distracted when the sawfish is being fed. (Aquarium of the Pacific)