DUBBED “The Chainsaw Predator” the freshwater sawfish is the scary-looking quarry for Jeremy Wade in the fourth episode of his latest River Monsters series on ITV.
Jeremy, seen recently in Angler’s Mail magazine, and whose TV show times are listed in the latest mags, heads down under to catch up with the species with the Latin name, Pristis microdon.
Reports claim this shark-like fish hacks boats apart and saws people in half. Jeremy travels to the Fitzroy River in Australia in order to find out if this critically endangered creature deserves its reputation as a river monster and why it swims so far up rivers.
After being plagued by sharks, (which, ironically, he had previously traveled to Australia to find, yet didn’t catch one for weeks) Jeremy uses the simplest of tactics to reel in a 7-ft monster
‘It actually felt very strange on the line,’ said Jeremy. ‘A bit like a stingray in a way, but the jarring I could feel wasn’t the stingray’s tail hitting the line. It was the rostrum teeth…”
Here, online, Angler’s Mail reveals some more about Jeremy’s latest conquest, the freshwater sawfish…
Growing up to 20 ft long and weighing in at up to 400 lb-plus, freshwater sawfish are not sharks; they are fish from the ray species that have the bodies like sharks and snouts (called rostrums) like sharp blades.
Found in countries like Africa, Australia, Pakistan and India, these fish have between 14 and 23 toothlike denticles called rostral teeth that rest on either side of their rostrums.
Male freshwater sawfish have more rostral teeth than the females. When sawfish are born, these denticles protrude less, and are covered by a tissue sheath, so that they don’t injure the sawfish moms during the birthing process.
Freshwater sawfish gather their food by swinging their rostrums from side to side to separate invertebrates from the surfaces they live on, and to stun schools of fish. These sawfish also like to eat freshwater prawn and shrimp.
Other predators in the water know not to mess with them and rarely do, but sharks and saltwater crocodiles sometimes take their chances, typically hunting juvenile sawfish, which are smaller in size.
The indigenous peoples of Western Australia have long relied on the meat of freshwater sawfish for survival. The animals’ other body parts are valuable commodities, too: For example, people sell their fins in Asia, process their livers for oil and make their skin into leather. The eggs, liver oil and bile of the freshwater sawfish are also used in traditional Chinese medicine.
- Angler’s Mail magazine lists best fishing on TV every week- check each issue for highlights.