All research activities conducted under guidelines listed in permits ESA 17787 and EVER-2017-SCI-0022
I went with a different research team today. On the team, we had 2 NOAA scientists and NOAA policy manager. I had to get up at 5 am! It was so early. We had to get on the water by 7 am. It was about an hour drive to the boat ramp. The sun still was up when we were loading into the truck, trailering the boat behind. On the drive, we had to call the park rangers of the Everglades with information of our permit and when we were sampling. We finally got to the boat ramp; we prepared to go outside, we could see the bugs swarming. The mosquitos are known for being bad in this area. It was like I couldn’t breathe without a bug getting into my mouth. Once we got on the water, and the wind picked up the bugs were gone. We were pulling out of the marina and saw a crocodile swim across the mouth of the channel. It was so calm; that you could see the ripples from the crocodile swimming through the water.
Then we were off. The first thing we had to do is set up a VR2. A VR2 is a receiver for tagging fish. Every time a fish swims by that we have tagged, it will ping. Having a series of these receivers will help us figure out where the fish/ sharks are going.
We then set up some gill nets; they are about 2 in by 2 in mesh that extends 200 yards. We stretch the line to the shore to see if we catch any Sawfish. We set a total of 7 nets throughout the day. On the second set, we caught a juvenile Sawfish!!!! It was so exciting!
It wasn’t more than 2ft long. It had 26 teeth on one side and 28 on the other side. They are born with their a set number of teeth. In the womb, they have a gel that covers the teeth. This gel falls off after a few months. But as they grow there teeth stay the same number just get bigger and further apart as the rostrum grows.
About the Sawfish
Sawfish has been heavily hunted for thousands of years for their rostrum. They are critically endangered by the IUCN. The only strongholds are in northern Australia and Southern Florida. There are three different types of Sawfish; Green, Largetooth, and Narrow. The only ones found in Florida are the Narrowtooth Sawfish. The juveniles live in the estuaries, and near shore. The adults move a little further offshore to feed.
They are pretty amazing fish. It is really important to make sure we save these animals. If you want to help researchers, do more to study and preserve these animals. Please donate: http://www.sawfishconservationsociety.org