A couple staying at Waterside Inn on the Beach snapped a picture of a local angler reeling in a rare Sawfish on May 19.
Doug and Dawn Bennett were on their honeymoon when they saw the man pull in the Sawfish. It had a GPS tracking device on its fin so they called the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission to inform them that the Sawfish had been safely released back into the Gulf of Mexico.
At first, guests on the beach thought the man had caught a Sawshark, but after some research online they learned that Sawsharks live in depths of 300 feet or more, and local Gulf waters are too shallow for them. Sawfish and Sawsharks look similar in appearance, but are different in other ways. Sawfish are larger and they don't have barbels, and their gills are located on the bottom side of the body like rays.
Local angler catches a Sawfish off the beach at the Waterside Inn. DAWN BENNETT.
Not much is known about the Sawfish, according to FWC's Fish and Wildlife Research Institute. Since 1992 it has been listed as endangered under the U.S. Endangered Species Act. Over the last century they were unintentionally overfished because their long saws or rostrums became entangled in fishing gear and they were also popular trophy items.
FWC officials ask that anglers release Sawfish back into the Gulf and report any sightings or encounters to 941-255-7403 for research purposes.
For more information, visit myfwc.com.