Rare sawfish spotted with rope tied around saw-like nose, mouth

While out snook fishing along the Indian River Lagoon near Fort Pierce, Peter Deeks and his friend got into a two-hour tug-of-war battle and hooked onto a giant sawfish.

"Probably 12 feet," Deeks said. "Maybe a bit bigger. So, its saw, itself, was about five feet long. That was the first sawfish that I’ve ever seen so it was really cool."

But right away something didn’t look right. His mouth was roped shut.

"It wasn’t on there very tight but it was still tight enough where we tried to get it off a few times and then it just wasn’t safe for the fish, wasn’t safe for us, so we went ahead and let it go," Deeks said.

Sawfish are like a mix between a shark and a stingray. They can be very dangerous.

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"Like a real saw, super sharp super dangerous," he said.

But, just how did that rope get tied around it?

"The more we looked at it, it was the same type of palmer rope that’s used on crab traps, so what I think happened was - you know because it swims around on the bottom - that it got tangled up in a crab trap rope and then kinda set itself free," Deeks said.

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Sawfish are endangered animals and are protected in the State of Florida.

They must be released unharmed back into the water or face federal charges.

FWC advises trying to untangle any line as best you can.


There are ongoing sawfish research and recovery efforts in Florida.

To report sawfish sightings, you can call the Sawfish Hotline with FWC at 844-4SAWFISH.

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