The sawfishes are some of the most imperiled elasmobranchs (sharks, rays, and skates), with all five species assessed as Critically Endangered or Endangered on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species. International Sawfish Day is an annual event held on October 17 to educate the public about the biology and ecology of these spectacular rays, to highlight the threats they continue to face, to focus on current research and management efforts to safeguard their future, and to inform people how they can contribute to the conservation and recovery of sawfish around the world. Founded by the European and American Associations of Zoos and Aquariums and the Sawfish Conservation Society, the first International Sawfish Day was celebrated in 2017.
On October 17, 2020 the fourth International Sawfish Day will be celebrated mostly online due to the global coronavirus pandemic; however, there will be some limited events at institutions and organizations around the world. To celebrate International Sawfish Day, participating aquariums, museums, zoos, schools, conservation agencies, and research groups hold celebrations and events, share messages and images on social media, and help spread the word about sawfish. Social media posts using the hashtags #InternationalSawfishDay and #INTLsawfishday and interactive events reach hundreds of thousands of people in the weeks surrounding each International Sawfish Day. In addition to the excitement generated for sawfish protection and conservation, International Sawfish Day also raises funds for sawfish field research programs and helps strengthen the collaborative relationships between the public aquarium community and research and field conservation organizations. The American Association of Zoos and Aquariums coordinates the fundraiser to contribute to important sawfish research and conservation efforts. Information about events and the fundraiser can be found at www.InternationalSawfishDay.org.
Want to get involved? Lots of resources are available to help you celebrate in style or host your own event and increase your knowledge about sawfish. You can print posters and handouts and discover fun sawfish craft and activity ideas. You can also buy an official International Sawfish Day t-shirt to proudly wear on October 17, and any day, to promote the conservation of sawfishes. You can even watch live sawfish via video feeds thanks to Dallas World Aquarium https://dwazoo.com/animal-cams/shark-cam and Georgia Aquarium https://www.georgiaaquarium.org/webcam/ocean-voyager/. Information about scheduled events and other International Sawfish Day resources can be found at www.SawfishConservationSociety.org and at the Sawfish Conservation Society public Facebook group at www.facebook.com/groups/91335002341.
Tonya Wiley may be contacted at Tonya@havenworth.org or (941) 201-2685.