Lesson: Where Do Sawfish Live?

Lesson Summary:
This lesson examines the diversity of locations and habitats where sawfish are found throughout the world.

Distribution, habitats

Background Information:
There are five recognized species of sawfish throughout the world. In this activity, the distribution range of each species will be discussed and mapped. Information on each species can be found in the “Sawfish In Peril” teaching binder within each of the species profiles.

Teacher’s guide to activity
Copies of activity map sheets
Species profile laminated cards with maps
Pencils (colored pencils recommended)

This activity begins by getting students to look at the different maps of sawfish species distribution. Have each student color in a map template of the distribution of a favorite sawfish species or have students form groups to color the maps for each species.

Discussion Questions:
Where do sawfish live?
What habitats do sawfish reside in?
Where would you go if you wanted to see a sawfish?

Extension Activities:
For more advanced students, the following questions can be discussed:
What determines where sawfish species live?
Do sawfish prefer certain water temperatures and habitat types?
In the past, did sawfish have larger distribution than they do currently? If so, why do you think that is?
Where can you see a sawfish in an aquarium? (scroll down for list below)

Maps of sawfish species geographical distribution (from the species profiles):

Scientists have recently discovered with the use of genetic testing that the largetooth and freshwater sawfishes are the same species and have been renamed to together to be P. pristis

Sawfish bioprofiles include taxonomic, geographic distribution, habitat, description, dentition, feeding habits, reproduction, importance to humans and conservation information for each of the five featured species: (HINT! – visit these pages to get help with the above discussion questions)

Sawfish in Aquaria

Sawfishes currently kept in public aquaria include: the dwarf sawfish (Pristis clavata), the largetooth/ freshwater sawfish (Pristis pristis), the smalltooth sawfish (Pristis pectinata), and the green sawfish (Pristis zijsron).

Live sawfishes can be viewed in the United States in the following aquaria (please always check ahead of time prior to visiting to confirm this information):


  • Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach: 1 largetooth/freshwater sawfish
  • Six Flags Marine World at Vallejo: 1 smalltooth sawfish


  • Downtown Aquarium Denver: 2 green sawfish


  • SeaWorld Adventure Park in Orlando: 2 smalltooth sawfish


  • Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta: 5 largetooth/freshwater sawfish


  • John G. Shedd Aquarium in Chicago: 1 green sawfish


  • National Aquarium in Baltimore: 2 largetooth/freshwater sawfish


  • Underwater Adventures Aquarium in Bloomington: 2 green sawfish


  • Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas: 3 green sawfish

New Jersey:

  • Adventure Aquarium in Camden: 1 freshwater and 1 green sawfish

South Carolina:

  • Ripley’s Aquarium in Myrtle Beach: 1 largetooth/freshwater, 2 smalltooth, and 1 green sawfish


  • Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies in Gatlinburg: 2 largetooth/freshwater, 1 smalltooth, and 1 green sawfish
  • Aquarium Restaurant (Landry’s) in Nashville: 1 largetooth/freshwater sawfish
  • Downtown Aquarium (Landry’s) in Houston: 2 green sawfish


  • Downtown Aquarium (Landry’s) in Houston: 2 green sawfish