By Annmarie Fearing, University of Mississippi
‘SawSearch’ is a collective research effort led by Dr. Nicole Phillips and Annmarie Fearing from the University of Southern Mississippi and Kelcee Smith from Louisiana State University. This project would not be possible without our collaborators from around the world, dedicated volunteers, and funding from Save Our Seas Foundation, Shark Conservation Fund, and The Curtis and Edith Munson Foundation. Thank you for being a part of our ‘SawSearch’ project and supporting our efforts to collect tissue samples from historic sawfish specimens. With your help we have collected over 1,500 tissue samples from all five species of sawfish from over 150 public and private natural history collections. Specimens originate from as far back as the 1600’s and span from origins around the globe such as West Africa (read more here), Nicaragua, Panama, and Bangladesh, among others. As we continue to collect and process these important samples, we wanted to provide you with a brief update.
Historical Smalltooth Sawfish tissue being digested during DNA extraction. Image by Annmarie Fearing.
For the remainder of the year, we will be dedicated to wrapping up the analyses of these data for publications, but we will still be on the search for more saws. We are currently working to gather additional samples from Papua New Guinea and Brazil, which would allow us to address uncertainties regarding the status of sawfish in these locations.
As we continue to collect more samples and expand our research we will be sure and keep you all updated. Thank you again for being a part of ‘SawSearch’!
Featured image caption: DNA sequence (above) from a Green Sawfish saw (below) from a sawfish captured at Masirah Island in the Arabian Sea in 1961.
Annmarie Fearing (left), Nicole Phillips (middle left), Cat Gordon (middle right), and Kelcee Smith (right). Image by Annmarie Fearing.