japanese sawshark

Sawshark in the northwest Pacific with a long rostrum used for searching for food

The Japanese sawshark (Pristiophorus japonicus) is a species of Sawshark in the family Pristiophoridae. The Japanese sawshark can be found in the northwest Pacific Ocean around Japan, Korea, Taiwan Islands, and northern China. It has a long, narrow rostrum. It pokes the sea floor with its snout and barbels to search for food. The Japanese sawshark reaches a maximum length of 5.1 feet.


Family: Pristiophoridae – Sawsharks

Genus: Pristiophorus 

Species: japonicus


Phylum– Chordata

Class– Chondrichthyles



Common Name– Sawsharks

Family– Pristiophoridae

Common Name– Sawsharks




Average Size and Length: The Japanese sawshark reaches a maximum length of between 4.6 and 5.1 feet.

Teeth and Jaw: The Japanese sawshark has 23-43 large, lateral rostral sawteeth. There are 15-26 before the barbels, and 8-17+ after the barbels. There are 19-24 ventral teeth before, and 8-9 after.

Head: The Japanese sawshark has a long, narrow rostrum at a preoral length of 26% to 30%. The barbels are closer to the mouth than the rostral tip. Juvenile Japanese sawsharks have 1 or 2 smaller teeth between the large lateral sawteeth.

Tail: The Japanese sawshark’s caudal fin is angled almost straight in line with the body.

Demographic, Distribution, Habitat, Environment and Range: The Japanese sawshark can be found in the northwest Pacific Ocean around Japan, Korea, Taiwan Islands, and northern China between latitudes 48°N and 22°N. It is found over the sandy or muddy bottoms of the continental shelfs and upper slopes at depths of 160 to 2,620 feet.

Research suggests that the Japanese sawshark may vertically migrate in the water column because of changes in temperature.

Diet: The Japanese sawshark has a varied diet of small benthic organisms that stay on the bottom. They poke the bottom with their snout and barbels.

Aesthetic Identification: The Japanese sawshark is large and stalky. The Japanese sawshark is plain brown or reddish-brown above, and counter-shaded white below. It has a darker brown rostral midline and edges. Juvenile Japanese sawsharks have light trailing edges to the pectoral and dorsal fins. Its first dorsal fin originates behind the tips of the pectoral fins.

Biology and Reproduction: The Japanese sawshark is ovoviviparous. After an unknown gestation period, the female shark gives live birth to around 12 pups. These pups average around 12 inches long. At sexual maturity the male is between 2.6 and 3.3 feet long, and the female is around 3.3 feet long.

Behavioral Traits, Sensing and Intelligence: Unknown.

Japanese Sawshark Future and Conservation: Not much is known about the current state and future of the Japanese sawshark. Due to its benthic lifestyle, and because the range of this shark is heavily fished, many assume that the Japanese sawshark is at considerable risk of being caught as bycatch in bottom trawling and gillnet operations.

Japanese Sawshark Recorded Attacks on Humans: Due to its habitat and behavior, the Japanese sawshark poses no threat to humans.