Narrow Sawfish, Anoxypristis cuspidata (Latham 1794)

Other Names: Knifetooth Sawfish, Pointed Sawfish, Sawfish

Narrow Sawfish, Anoxypristis cuspidata. Source: Australian National Fish Collection, CSIRO. License: CC by Attribution-NonCommercial


This large sawfish moves readily between fresh and brackish or marine waters. Oncewidespread and relatively common in the Indo-Pacific region, the Narrow Sawfish is threatened throughout its range by fishing pressure, and habitat loss and degradation. 

Identifying features:

  • Blade-like rostral saw very narrow, teeth absent from basal quarter
  • Rostrum with 16-29 pairs of dagger or blade-like teeth
  • Lower caudal lobe distinct
  • Body grey above sometimes with a greenish tinge, paler below.

  • Cite this page as:
    Dianne J. Bray, Anoxypristis cuspidata in Fishes of Australia, accessed 02 Dec 2022,

    Narrow Sawfish, Anoxypristis cuspidata (Latham 1794)


    Allen, G.R. 1997. Marine Fishes of Tropical Australia and South-east Asia. Perth : Western Australian Museum 292 pp. 106 pls.

    Allen, G.R. & Swainston, R. 1988. The Marine Fishes of North-Western Australia. A field guide for anglers and divers. Perth, WA : Western Australian Museum vi 201 pp., 70 pls.

    Compagno, L.J.V. 1986. Families Pristidae, Torpedinidae, Narkidae. pp. 110-114 in Smith, M.M. & Heemstra, P. (eds). Smith's Sea Fishes. Johannesburg : Macmillan South Africa xx + 1047 pp. 144 pls.

    Compagno, L.J.V. & Cook, S.F. 1995. The exploitation and conservation of freshwater elasmobranchs: status of taxa and prospects for the future. The biology of Freshwater elasmobranchs. The Journal of Aquariculture and Aquatic Science. 7: 62–90.

    Compagno, L.J.V. & Cook, S.F. 2005. Order Pristiformes, sawfishes. In: S.L. Fowler, M. Camhi, G.H. Burgess, G.M. Cailliet, S.V. Fordham, R.D. Cavanagh, C.A. Simpfendorfer, and J.A. Musick (eds) Sharks, rays and chimaeras: the status of the chondrichthyan fishes. IUCN SSC, Cambridge, UK and Gland, Switzerland.

    Compagno, L.J.V., Cook, S.F. and Oetinger, M.I. 2005. Knifetooth, pointed, or narrow sawfish Anoxypristis cuspidata (Latham, 1794). In: S.L. Fowler, M. Camhi, G.H. Burgess, G.M. Cailliet, S.V. Fordham, R.D. Cavanagh, C.A. Simpfendorfer, and J.A. Musick (eds) Sharks, rays and chimaeras: the status of the chondrichthyan fishes. IUCN SSC Shark Specialist Group. IUCN, Gland, Switzerland and Cambridge, UK.

    Compagno, L.J.V. & Last, P.R. 1999. Families Pristidae, Rhinidae, Rhinobatidae, Platyrhinidae. pp. 1410-1432 in Carpenter, K.E. & Niem, V.H. (eds). The Living Marine Resources of the Western Central Pacific. FAO Species Identification Guide for Fisheries Purposes. Rome : FAO Vol. 3 1397-2068 pp.

    Daley, R.K., Stevens, J.D., Last, P.R. & Yearsley, G.K. 2002. Field Guide to Australian Sharks & Rays. Hobart : CSIRO Marine Research 84 pp.

    Faria VV, McDavitt MT, Charvet P, Wiley TR, Simpfendorfer CA and Naylor GJP (2013) Species delineation and global population strusture of Critically Endangered sawfishes (Pristidae). Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society 167: 136–164. pdf

    Fowler, S.L., Cavanagh, R.D., Camhi, M., Burgess, G.H., Cailliet, G.M., Fordham, S.V., Simpfendorfer, C.A. and Musick, J.A. (comps and eds). 2005. Sharks, Rays and Chimaeras: The Status of the Chondrichthyan Fishes. Status Survey. pp. x + 461. IUCN/SSC Shark Specialist Group, IUCN, Gland, Switzerland and Cambridge, UK.

    Last, P.R. & Stevens, J.D. 1994. Sharks and Rays of Australia. Canberra : CSIRO Australia 513 pp. 84 pls.

    Last, P.R. & Stevens, J.D. 2009. Sharks and Rays of Australia. Collingwood : CSIRO Publishing Australia 2, 550 pp.

    Latham, J. 1794. An essay on the various species of sawfish. Transactions of the Linnean Society of London 2(25): 273-282 pls 26-27

    McDavitt, M. 1996. The cultural and economic importance of sawfishes (family Pristidae). Shark News 8: 10–11.

    Morgan, D.L., Whitty, J.M., Phillips, N.M., Thorburn, D.C., Chaplin, J.A. & McAuley, R. (2011). North-western Australia as a hotspot for endangered elasmobranchs with particular reference to sawfishes and the Northern River Shark. Journal of the Royal Society of Western Australia 94: 345-358.

    Phillips, N., Chaplin, J., Morgan, D. & Peverell, S. (2009) Extraction and amplification of DNA from the dried rostra of sawfishes (Pristidae) for applications in conservation genetics. Pacific Conservation Biology 15(2): 128 - 134.

    Sainsbury, K.J., Kailola, P.J. & Leyland, G.G. 1985. Continental Shelf Fishes of Northern and North-Western Australia. Canberra : Fisheries Information Service 375 pp. figs & pls.

    Southwell, T. 1910. A descriptive note on the capture of a large saw-fish (Pristis cuspidatus) containing intra-uterine embryos. Spolia Zeylandica 6(24): 137–139.

    Stead, D.G. 1963. Sharks and Rays of Australian Seas. Sydney : Angus & Robertson 211 pp. 63 figs.

    Quick Facts

    CAAB Code:37025002

    Conservation:EPBC Act Not Listed

    Conservation:IUCN Critically endangered; CITES Listed

    Depth:0-40 m

    Habitat:Freshwater to marine

    Max Size:4.7 m

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