Thursday, June 23, 2011

Endangered? Phbbbt.

Okay, so yes, they really are endangered, but wow it seems like I have seen a lot of sawfish lately!  Of course, going on an insane number of sampling trips has probably increased my chances.  I dubbed myself the "sawfish ninja" after catching sawfish on several consecutive trips!  Heck, I caught 6 on one trip the other week - that made for nearly a 14 hour workday. 

Sawfish are, quite simply, amazing creatures.  I am glad that they are listed as a federally endangered species.  Back in the day, those long "hedgetrimmer"-like rostrums easily entangled in fisherman's nets, and they were considered somewhat of a pest, since they wrecked the nets.  Therefore, they were killed in large numbers.  We know so little about them, so it's an amazing experience to be part of a team that conducts important research on sawfish.  Hopefully, we will come to learn more and more about their life history so we can learn how to better help them recover their numbers.  These fish used to be a common sight up and down the eastern seaboard, but their historical range has all but disappeared.  I happen to live and work in one of the few places they still occupy.

Yesterday, we caught a little young-of-the-year sawfish.  He was very cute, and quite frisky!  Contrary to popular belief, however, they will not hack you in pieces with that saw.  I'm always quite astonished at how docile they are while we poke and prod them.  They will surprise you every now again though - and they are strong. 

Some think they are ugly.  I think they are beautiful.  I wish everyone could have a chance to look at one eye-to-eye.  At work, we were discussing how amazing their eyes are.  They are expressive somehow!  I just love them.

I do sometimes complain about going to work (hey, it is my job), but when I look a sawfish in the eye, I am reminded how lucky I am to be a part of this project.

Here I am feeling the sawfish love...

And here is a photo of me with one of my other loves...a baby bull shark.  This guy still had a fresh umbilical scar!  I got my "hero shot" with him, then released him so he could go eat other fish and grow up to make more baby bull sharks.

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