dwarf sawfish or queensland sawfish

An endangered “miniature” sawfish at 10.5 feet and lives up to 48 years or more!

The Dwarf sawfish or Queensland sawfish, (Pristis clavate), is a sawfish of the family Pristidae, found in tropical Australia. This endangered species is the smallest species in its family. It can be found from the Cape Your Peninsula to the northern Pilbara region.


Family: Pristidae – Sawfish

Genus: Pristis 

Species: clavate


Phylum– Chordata

Class– Chondrichthyles


Super Order– Batoidea


Common Name– Rays

Family– Pristidae

Common NameSawfish




Average Size and Length: The Dwarf sawfish grows to a length of about 10.5 feet.

Teeth and Jaw: The Dwarf sawfish has 18-24 teeth on each side of the rostrum. The teeth towards the tip of the rostrum are equally spaced.

Head: The snout of the Dwarf sawfish is broad and flat and is elongated into a rostrum with around twenty pairs of rostral teeth. The rostrum has large numbers of ampullae of Lorenzini that are adapted for electroreception. The rostrum of the Dwarf sawfish is between 20% and 15% its total length.

Tail: The caudal fin of the Dwarf sawfish has a very small lower lobe.

Demographic, Distribution, Habitat, Environment and Range: The Dwarf sawfish can be found in the western Indo-Pacific region and in the past had a much wider range than it does now. It inhabits areas from the Cape York Peninsula, Queensland, to the northern Pilbara region of Western Australia. It typically inhabits inshore waters, estuaries, tidal mudflats and sometimes the lowest reaches of rivers. Although they are sometimes found in deep water, most movements take place while the tide is either rising or falling, and activities during each tidal cycle may be up to 6.2 miles. At high tide Dwarf sawfish tend to forage and rest amongst the mangroves.

Check out this interactive map courtesy of the Florida Museum, a University of Florida accredited resource. 

Diet: The Dwarf sawfish feeds mainly on fish, but also eats mollusks and crustaceans.

Aesthetic Identification: The Dwarf sawfish has a torpedo-shaped body. It is usually greenish-brown, or yellowish-brown, on its dorsal surface, and counter-shaded whitish underneath. It has broad, triangular pectoral fins and large, upright dorsal fins. The first dorsal fin is located directly above, or slightly behind, the origins of the pelvic fins.

Biology and Reproduction: The Dwarf sawfish is ovoviviparous. The litter size is unknown; however, the young are about 2.1 feet long when they are born. The life span of the Dwarf sawfish is estimated to be 48 years or more.

Behavioral Traits, Sensing and Intelligence: The ampullae of Lorenzini of the Dwarf sawfish is probably also used to manipulate prey. Its sensory input helps it move about in the muddy waters where there is low visibility.

Dwarf Sawfish Future and Conservation: The Dwarf sawfish is endangered. The main threat facing the demise of the Dwarf sawfish is being caught as bycatch in gillnets and trawl nets. Fishermen need to be educated in this area, and on the importance of this sawfish. It would benefit to educate fisherman on safe catch and release practices.

Dwarf Sawfish Recorded Attacks on Humans: Not a threat to humans.