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Is this the Sawfish that attacked tourists in Goa?

A case of sea creatures attacking two tourists in Goa was recorded a few months ago. The sawfish found in Maharashtra maybe the same kind of fish that attacked the tourists in Goa.

A local fisherman near Vijaydurg in Maharashtra’s Sindhudurg district of Konkan region discovered a rare 20-feet long sawfish weighing approximately 700 kgs in his fishing net.

It is a critically endangered species of shark listed on the Red List issued by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and falls under Schedule I of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972.

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As per the endangered list of marine species issued by the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF), sawfish population is under threat due to trophy angling, for food, illegal sale to aquariums and elimination by fishermen to prevent the fish from consuming their catch.

Also known as carpenter sharks, a family of rays characterized by a long, narrow, flattened rostrum, or nose extension, lined with sharp transverse teeth, arranged so as to resemble a saw.

IMG-20170327-WA0018

It is said that the sawfish got entangled into fisherman Muneer Mujawar’s net. It must have died due to suffocation as its snout was found entangled in the net they had cast.

The news was confirmed by Sindhudurg district collector Uday Chowdhary.

He said that it is rare to find such a fish in the net. “When I found the sawfish, it was already injured. It must have tried to escape from the net,” he said.

“On Saturday night, we had cast our nets close to the shoreline for our daily catch. On Sunday, as I was pulling them in, I realised that a massive fish was trapped in one of the nets,” said Munir.

Another fisherman from the area said the species is on the decline along the entire western coast of India. “About 20 years ago, we used to regularly spot this shark. However, the population has declined drastically in the last 10 years caused due to water pollution,” said Khalil Vasta, a fisherman from Sindhudurg.

Sawfish caught off the West Coast, 1965
sawfish65640[1]
Photo from Singapore Waters – Unveiling Our Seas

“The fish is sold for Rs.1.5 lakh in the domestic market.” Expertspeak

Marine biologists said that the shark is prone to entanglement in fishing nets owing to its long snout, which has 31 teeth.

“Being such a large animal, the fish has to move constantly so that it can breathe,” said Sajan John, head of marine projects at Wildlife Trust of India.

“Once their snout gets caught in the fishing nets, their movement gets restricted. In their bid to break free, they get entangled further and eventually get choked to death.” IMG-20170327-WA0017

He added that there is no clear indication of the population of the sawfish, but their numbers in the wild are gradually diminishing.

“There is hardly any research done or protection offered to these animals,” said John.

Researchers said the sawfish has been spotted mostly along the Gulf of Mexico, Australia and South-East Asia.

“The species is extremely rare to be found in the Indian peninsula. Even a single death, such as this, can put the entire population at risk,” said senior scientist and marine consultant, Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute.

He added that in a case of the fish getting entangled in a net, its gills should be immersed in water during the rescue period and the net should be removed and the fish released quickly.

Sadly, these fishermen didn’t do such a thing and got the fish killed.

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