Southern Sawshark, Pristiophorus nudipinnis Günther 1870

Other Names: Doggies, Saw Dog, Saw Shark, Sawshark, Shortnose Sawshark, Southern Saw Shark, Southern Saw-shark

Southern Sawshark, Pristiophorus nudipinnis. Source: Ken Graham / NSW Fisheries. License: CC by Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike

A uniformly greyish sawshark with no spots or markings, and the rostral barbels positioned closer to the mouth than to the tip of the rostrum.

Cite this page as:
Bray, D.J. 2024, Pristiophorus nudipinnis in Fishes of Australia, accessed 16 Apr 2024,

Southern Sawshark, Pristiophorus nudipinnis Günther 1870

More Info


Off Newcastle, New South Wales, to Eyre in the Great Australian Bight, Western Australia, including Tasmania. Inhabits soft sediment areas on the inner continental shelf.


Body long, slender; head flattened, with a relatively broad saw-like snout or rostrum and barbels inserted closer to mouth than to snout tip; nostrils oval, positioned halfway between barbels and corner of mouth; dorsal and pectoral fins entirely covered with denticles. Pale grey to greyish-brown above, pale below.


Females attain a maximum total length of 124 cm TL, and a maximum total body mass of 4.3 kg. The smaller males reach 110 cm and 2.2 kg. Ageing studies indicate that the species has a maximum life span of nine years. 


Sawsharks use the sensory barbels on the rostrum to find their prey. They injure or stun small fishes and invertebrates by vigorously moving their snouts from side to side.


Reproductive mode: aplacental viviparous (ovoviviparous), with embryos feeding solely on yolk. Length at birth 25 cm TL.


Taken as bycatch in the Southern Shark Fishery, the South East Trawl Fishery, and the Great Australia Bight Trawl Fishery. The three-mile closure of all Victorian waters to shark fishing provides a large refuge for the species.


The specific name is from the Latin nudus (= bare, naked) and pinna (= fin), in reference to the mostly scaleless dorsal fins and upper sides of the pectoral fins.

Species Citation

Pristiophorus nudipinnis Günther, 1870, Cat. Fishes Brit. Mus. 8: 432. Type locality: Tasmania and South Australia.


Bray, D.J. 2024


Atlas of Living Australia

Southern Sawshark, Pristiophorus nudipinnis Günther 1870


Coleman, N. 1980. Australian Sea Fishes South of 30ºS. Lane Cove, NSW : Doubleday Australia Pty Ltd 309 pp.

Compagno, L.J.V. 1984. FAO Species Catalogue. Sharks of the World. An annotated and illustrated catalogue of shark species known to date. Hexanchiformes to Lamniformes. FAO Fisheries Synopsis No. 125. Rome : FAO Vol. 4(1) pp. 1-249.

Compagno, L.J.V., Dando, M. & Fowler, S. 2005. A Field Guide to the Sharks of the World. London : Collins 368 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.

Ebert, D.A. & Wilms, H.A. 2013.  Pristiophorus lanae sp. nov., a new sawshark species from the Western North Pacific, with comments on the genus Pristiophorus Müller & Henle, 1837 (Chondrichthyes: Pristiophoridae). Zootaxa 3752(1): 86-100.

Glover, C.J.M. 1994. Families, Pristiophoridae, Squatinidae. pp. 149-154 figs 124-132 in Gomon, M.F., Glover, C.J.M. & Kuiter, R.H. (eds). The Fishes of Australia's South Coast. Adelaide : State Printer 992 pp. 810 figs.

Günther, A. 1870. Catalogue of the Fishes in the British Museum. Catalogue of the Physostomi, containing the families Gymnotidae, Symbranchidae, Muraenidae, Pegasidae, and of the Lophobranchii, Plectognathi, Dipnoi, [thru] Leptocardii, in the British Museum. London : British Museum Vol. 8 549 pp. [described as Pristiophorus nudipinnis, and P. owenii (type locality unknown) See ref at BHL

Hudson, R.J., Walker, T.I. & Day, R.W. 2005. Reproductive biology of southern sawshark (Pristiophorus nudipinnis) harvested off southern Australia, Appendix 3d. pp. 1‒14 in Walker, T.I. & Hudson, R.J. (eds). Sawshark and elephant fish assessment and bycatch evaluation in the Southern Shark Fishery. Final Report to Fisheries Research and Development Corporation. Primary Industries Research Victoria, Queenscliff, Victoria, Australia.

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.

Macbeth, W.G., Vandenberg, M. & Graham, K.J. 2008. Identifying Sharks and Rays; A guide to Commercial Fishers. Sydney : New South Wales Department of Primary Industry 71 pp.

May, J.L. & Maxwell, J.G.H. 1986. Field Guide to Trawl Fish from Temperate Waters of Australia. Hobart : CSIRO Division of Marine Research 492 pp.

Raoult, V., Gaston, T.F. & Williamson, J.E. 2015. Not all sawsharks are equal: species of co-existing sawsharks show plasticity in trophic consumption both within and between species. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences 72: 1–7.

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

Walker, T.I. 2016. Pristiophorus nudipinnis. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016: e.T41846A68641142. Accessed on 06 February 2024.

Walker, T.I., Hudson, R.J. & Gason, A.S. 2005. Catch Evaluation of Target, By-product and By-catch Species Taken by Gillnets and Longlines in the Shark Fishery of South-eastern Australia. Journal of Northwest Atlantic Fishery Science 35: 505-530.

Walker, T.I., Hudson, R.J. & Green, C. 2005. Age and growth of common sawshark, southern sawshark, and elephant fish harvested off southern Australia, Appendix 3b. pp. 1–9 in Walker, T.I. & Hudson, R.J. (eds). Sawshark and elephant fish assessment and bycatch evaluation in the Southern Shark Fishery. Final Report to Fisheries Research and Development Corporation,  Primary Industries Research Victoria, Queenscliff, Victoria, Australia.

Weigmann, S., Stehmann, M.F.W. & Thiel, R. 2014. Contribution to the taxonomy and distribution of Pristiophorus nancyae (Elasmobranchii: Pristiophoriformes) from the deep western Indian Ocean. Marine Biodiversity 44: 189–202.

Welten, M., Smith, M.M., Underwood, C. & Johanson, Z. 2015. Evolutionary origins and development of saw-teeth on the sawfish and sawshark rostrum (Elasmobranchii; Chondrichthyes). Royal Society Open Science 2: 150189.

White, W. 2008. Shark Families Heterodontidae to Pristiophoridae. pp. 32-100 in Gomon, M.F., Bray, D.J. & Kuiter, R.H. (eds). Fishes of Australia's Southern Coast. Sydney : Reed New Holland 928 pp.

Whitley, G.P. 1940. The Fishes of Australia. Part 1. The sharks, rays, devil-fish, and other primitive fishes of Australia and New Zealand. Sydney : Roy. Zool. Soc. N.S.W. 280 pp. 303 figs.

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37023001

Conservation:IUCN Least Concern

Depth:0-110 m

Fishing:Commercial bycatch

Habitat:Sandy areas

Max Size:124 cm TL


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