They are the most extraordinary of fish, resembling “hedge trimmers with fins.”
The sawfish, which is a kind of ray, is also among the most endangered of the fish living in the oceans.
Once found along the coastlines of 90 countries, the animals are now presumed extinct in more than half of these, according to a new study.
They are vanishing due to habitat loss and entanglement in fishing nets, experts have said.
Their “saws”, which evolved to sense and attack prey, have now become a liability, making them prone to being caught up in fishing gear.
Of the five species of sawfish, three are critically endangered, while two are listed as endangered, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List of Threatened Species.
There are 18 countries where at least one species of sawfish is missing, and 28 more where two species have disappeared.
Sawfish fins and teeth are sold as trophies, food or medicine, and as spurs for cockfighting.