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Researchers tag two endangered smalltooth sawfish inside Tampa Bay

The discovery highlights the importance of public outreach and citizen science. In both instances, the juveniles were identified by reports from citizens who saw the unusual fish and reported them.

Two more sawfish have been tagged and released in Tampa Bay as part of a long-running initiative by the Havenworth Conservation Center (HCC).

The report came in on Tuesday, May 9: someone saw two tiny sawfish inside Tampa Bay (tiny for sawfish is about two feet since adults can reach up to 16 feet). Since reports of endangered sawfish on the Florida Gulf Coast north of Charlotte Harbor are rare, especially those of young ones, it was critical to respond quickly. On Thursday, scientists in the area around Rattlesnake Key in lower Tampa Bay successfully caught, tagged and released two male sawfish, estimated to be about a month old.

The two sawfish were found in about six inches of water on a sand flat near the mangrove shoreline. They were each implanted with a 4-year acoustic transmitter. Acoustic receiver listening stations placed in the Tampa Bay area and beyond will record the movements of these tagged sawfish, allowing scientists to study how long they remain in the area and how they use Tampa Bay habitats.