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Author: (Latham, 1794)

Field Marks:
Five pairs of lateral gill slits, long, narrow sawshark snout 27 to 28% of total length, largely lanceolate denticles, two spineless dorsal fins, and no anal fin.

Diagnostic Features:
Rostrum long, narrow, and narrowly tapering, length of preoral snout 27 to 29% of total length. Bases of rostral barbels about 1.2 to 1.3 times closer to rostral tip than mouth; distance from rostral barbels to nostrils slightly less or equal to distance from nostrils to first to fourth gill slits. About 9 or 10 large rostral teeth on each side of rostrum in front of rostral barbels, 9 behind them. Distance from mouth to nostrils 1.3 to 1.4 times internarial space. Tooth rows 39 to 49 in upper jaw. Dorsal and pectoral fins covered with denticles in large specimens. Lateral trunk denticles largely unicuspidate. First dorsal origin behind free rear tips of pectorals by eye length or slightly less.

Geographical Distribution:
Western Pacific: Australia (South and Western Australia, New South Wales, Tasmania, Victoria), possibly the Philippines.

Habitat and Biology:
A common temperate-subtropical sawshark of the continental shelf and upper slope of Australia, found near or on the bottom from close inshore to at least 311 m depth. Occurs in bays and estuaries, but more abundant offshore at about 37 to 146 m on sandy or gravel-sand bottoms. Apparently occurs in schools or aggregates, possibly for feeding. Ovoviviparous, said to "breed in the winter month" (Whitley, 1940). Eats small fishes, including coronet fishes (Fistularia), and crustaceans.

Maximum total length about 137 cm, size at birth about 31 to 34 rm.

Interest to Fisheries:
This abundant small shark has formed the basis for a considerable bottom trawl fishery off southern Australia, the catches from which are utilized fresh for human consumption. Apparently the meat of this shark is excellent eating.

See the account of P. japonicus for notes on the difficulties in separating that species from P. cirratus. I have examined two specimens of sawsharks from the Philippines which may be this species or P. japonicus but may differ from P. cirratus in having the rostral barbels slightly closer to the mouth than the snout tip (possibly variable in P. cirratus). Whether the Philippine specimens can be assigned to either species hinges on whether or not these species can be separated.

Type material:
Holotype possibly in British Museum (Natural History)?, male about 1020 mm long, from Port Jackson, Australia.

Longnose sawshark (Pristiophorus cirratus)