Several fishermen got the surprise of a lifetime when they reeled in a rare sawfish while fishing in southern Florida. Dustin Richter was the lucky one who hooked the fish, but it took him and his friends over two hours to reel it into shore.
The sawfish was over 11 feett long and weighed over 500 pounds. The shark became the first marine fish to be named on the endangered species list in 2003. Populations have continued to decline over the years and the species is now considered to be critically endangered.
Although sawfish are sharks, they are docile and do not attack people unless provoked. Richter described his experience saying,
“Catching a fish like that is like once in a lifetime. It’s just one of those prehistoric-looking animals. If you see them you’re lucky to see them and if you catch them you’re even luckier.”
Sawfish use their unusual snouts to catch and kill their prey. They were named for the saw-like teeth that appear on each side of the snout, giving the fish’s face the appearance of a chainsaw.
Richter and his friends captured their catch on video and after bringing the large fish to shore, they snapped a few photos and then released it back into the ocean.
— Shark Advocates (@SharkAdvocates) May 27, 2014
— Shark Advocates (@SharkAdvocates) May 25, 2014
Because sawfish are critically endangered, they are protected by the Endangered Species Act and must be released if caught. The fishermen had no problem doing so and were happy to have had the chance to catch and see the fish up close.
There are numerous organizations that are working to protect the sawfish and help increase the populations. Several zoos and aquariums offer sawfish exhibits and participate in sawfish breeding programs.
— Atlantis (@Atlantisresort) April 16, 2014
— Blue Planet Society (@Seasaver) April 18, 2014
— Our Amazing Planet (@OAPlanet) April 22, 2014
Have you ever seen a sawfish in real life?
Image via Wikimedia Commons