An excerpt from an article in the Fort Myers News-Press:
It’s the marine equivalent of a Florida panther encounter: something so extraordinarily rare that even some biologists who study the smalltooth sawfish have never seen one in the wild.
But for Megan Durling, it was simply an extraordinary bit of good luck. “I’d been out looking for shark’s teeth when I saw it,” said the Cape Coral resident of her experience with the endangered creature at her dad’s house on the Caloosahatchee River in Alva (about an hour inland and northeast from Ocean’s Reach).
Most scientists won’t even venture to guess how many are left in the world, though they will allow that their current population is hugely diminished, the common estimate is by 95 percent. Once upon a time, there were so many in area waters, fishermen considered them a nuisance.
The primary reason for their collapse was their tendency to get tangled in commercial fishing nets, as well as in shrimp trawls and seines.
Smalltooth sawfish are the mascot for Calusa Waterkeeper, the nonprofit group that works to protect the Caloosahatchee and its estuary that’s one of the smalltooth sawfish’s remaining strongholds. In fact, the nonprofit has joined forces with other conservation groups to pressure the federal government to better protect them and other wildlife from the harmful effects of releases from Lake Okeechobee.
For a really interesting video on protecting the smalltooth sawfish, watch below!