Largetooth Sawfish Global Records
The Caribbean, Central America, and Northern South America
There have been 33 confirmed records of the largetooth sawfish in this region, excluding Costa Rica and Nicaragua. The lack of data from this region is likely due to a multitude of factors. These factors include confusion of identification with the smalltooth sawfish and the lack of scientific surveys and media reports during the years of the highest abundance of this species.
Total records from throughout this region include 5 from Mexico, 5 from Guatamala, 1 from Honduras, 483 from Nicaragua, 37 from Costa Rica, 7 from Colombia, 6 from Venezuela, 1 from Guyana, 5 from Suriname, 1 from French Guiana, and 1 from Trinidad. Largetooth sawfish documented from Mexican waters include 4 from the southwestern Gulf of Mexico with the other specimen being captured at the northeastern tip of the Yucatan Peninsula. The Yucatan largetooth sawfish was captured in 1997 and is the northern-most record in recent history.
Encounters could not be substantiated in Belize and the five Guatemalan largetooth sawfish encounters resulted from a survey of Lake Izabal in the 1940s. The majority of records from Costa Rica and Nicaragua are from Thorson's work on the Lake Nicaragua-Rio San Juan system. Sawfish were originally first noted in Nicaragua as early as 1529 by a Spaniard. However by the 1980s, scientists could not locate a single living specimen. A commercial fishery for the largetooth sawfish began around 1970, quickly decimating the Lake Nicaragua population. Commercial fishing for this sawfish was banned in Lake Nicaragua in 2006, however it is still taken incidentally by fishers targeting other species.
Largetooth sawfish were at one time sighted in the Magdalena River estuary in Colombia, however there has been no documented reports of sawfish within the past 10 years in this country. The species was also thought to be common at one time in Venezuela, but unfortunately the last four confirmed reports were from the 1960s. The records from Guyana, French Guiana, and Trinidad are from the late 1800s and early 1900s. The latest Suriname account was in 1962.
Assessed as critically endangered in Brazil, there is a total of 139 largetooth sawfish reports in this South American country. The most recent of these reports was in 2009. Most of these records (12) originate in the state of Amazonas, located in the middle portion of the Amazon River basin. Other known locations include the states of Rio Grande do Norte, Sergipe, Bahia, Espirito Santo, Rio de Janeiro, and Sao Paulo (all with 1 record each), Para (7 records), and Maranhao (3 records). Reports from fishers also indicate largetooth sawfish are caught in Amapa in the northernmost portion of Brazil.
Scientific data collection is very limited throughout this region, both historically and recently. It is known that largetooth sawfish are captured as bycatch and in artisanal fisheries in northern Brazil. There is even some evidence that this species is being targeted for the lucrative Chinese shark fin trade. Sawfish in Brazil have not yet been extripated to the extent that it has elsewhere.
West Coast of Africa
Historical records of the largetooth sawfish off the western coast of Africa include Senegal, Gambia, Guinea-Bissau, Republic of Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Cote d'Ivoire, Congo, Democratic Republic of Congo, and Angola. However, these records may not be entirely accurate or complete due to confusion among sawfish species, absence of location data, and species identification. Although largetooth sawfish were common at one time from Mauritia to the Republic Guinea, they are now rarely encountered. Most recently, a largetooth sawfish was captured in 2005 in Guinea-Bissau.