Sawfish News By: Tonya Wiley, Havenworth Coastal Conservation

International Sawfish Day is October 17

Sawfishes are considered one of the world’s most threatened elasmobranchs (sharks, rays, and skates) and yet few people know about these amazingly unique animals.  There are five species of sawfish in the world and all are 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 raise awareness for these spectacular rays and to highlight the threats they face in order to safeguard their future.  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.

To celebrate International Sawfish Day participating organizations from around the world including public aquaria, conservation agencies, and research facilities hold celebrations and events, share messages and images on social media, and help spread the word about sawfish.  Social media posts using the official hashtag #IntlSawfishDay and interactive events at public aquaria and zoos reach hundreds of thousands of people in the days leading up to, including, and following International Sawfish Day.  In addition to the awareness generated for sawfish, International Sawfish Day raises funds for sawfish field research programs and helps strengthen the collaborative relationships between the public aquarium community and research and field conservation organizations.

On October 17, 2019 the third International Sawfish Day will be celebrated online and at events at aquariums, museums, zoos, schools, and other institutions and organizations around the world.  The American Association of Zoos and Aquariums will coordinate a fundraiser to contribute to sawfish research.  Information about events and the fundraiser can be found at

Want to get involved?  Resources are available from the Sawfish Conservation Society to help you celebrate in style or host your own event and increase your knowledge about all five species of sawfish.  You can print posters and handouts and discover fun sawfish craft 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.  Information about scheduled events and other International Sawfish Day resources can be found at and the Sawfish Conservation Society Facebook public group at

Tonya Wiley, President


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Photograph captions and credits:

The International Sawfish Day Logo. Credit: Sawfish Conservation Society.

“Sawfish Swag” has become a popular novelty, with thousands of keychains, buttons, pens, magnets, and stickers given away each year at International Sawfish Day events across the globe.   Credit: Tonya Wiley

A smalltooth sawfish swims in an outdoor exhibit at Atlantis Resort in the Bahamas.  Credit: Tonya Wiley