Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Chordata

Class: Chondrichthyes

Order: Pristiformes

Family: Pristidae

Genus: Pristis

Species: P. zijsron

Physical Description

The modern day sawfish species have been in the ocean around 56 million years. Sawfish get their name from their rostrum or “saws”–long, flat snouts edged with pairs of teeth which are used to locate, stun, and kill prey. The green sawfish is also known as the narrow snout sawfish because it’s rostrum is thinner than other sawfishes. The green sawfish is a ray, with a shark-like body and a striking elongated snout, known as a saw. This saw bears 23-37 pairs of teeth and earns the species its common name. This sawfish is greenish brown or olive in colour, with pale white to yellowish underparts. At maturity, males reach impressive lengths of up to 430 cm. Female lengths are not known, but it is thought that they reach similar sizes as males.


This species often rests on the bottom with the saw held upwards at an angle. It feeds on slow-moving fish that form shoals, including mullet, which are tackled by swiping at them with the side of the saw, they may also remove crustaceans and molluscs from the sediment by using the saw to rake them out. Like other sharks and rays, fertilisation is internal and females give birth to live young. At birth, the saws have a gelatinous coating which protects the mother.

Habitat and Distribution

Green sawfish are generally restricted to shallow (less than 33 feet (10 m) coastal and estuarine habitats, although they have been found in freshwater up to 150 miles upriver and to depths of 130 feet. Like most sawfishes, the green sawfish prefers muddy bottoms in estuarine environments. The green sawfish is ranged throughout the Indo-West Pacific from South Africa northward along the east coast of Africa, through the Red Sea, Persian Gulf, southern Asia, Indo-Australian archipelago, and east to Asia as far north as Taiwan and southern China. Green sawfish range has contracted and they are currently presumed to be extirpated in the Indian Ocean and the only recent records in the Indo-Pacific area outside of Australia are from Malaysia.