Atlantis Event Puts Spotlight on Endangered Sawfish
Nassau. April 30, 2019.
Government officials, conservationists, and researchers gathered Friday at Atlantis to focus attention on the Smalltooth Sawfish, a Critically Endangered species of shark-like ray that is native to The Bahamas.
The “Sawfish Soiree” — hosted April 26 by Atlantis, Bahamas National Trust, and the Initiative to Save Caribbean Sawfish – drew more than 50 distinguished guests to learn about the species and discuss ways to help ensure its recovery. Atlantis Executive Vice President, Mr. Russell Miller, welcomed guests and noted “The people gathered here and the organizations you represent, are crucial to the survival of the Smalltooth Sawfish and it will require the collaborative efforts of researchers, conservationists and governments to save this species from extinction.” He also spoke about Atlantis’ 2012 birth of sawfish pups, the world’s first and only example of reproductive success for captive sawfish.
Mr. Colin Higgs, Deputy President of the Bahamas National Trust, remarked “Sawfish are in danger of extinction and The Bahamas is one of the last critical Smalltooth Sawfish refuges. We were delighted that so many people turned out to learn about the needs of this species and to discuss what needs to be done to prevent their extinction in Bahamian waters.”
A keynote address was delivered by Dr. Dean Grubbs of Florida State University, who leads ground-breaking Bahamas sawfish research. Dr. Grubbs spoke of his tagging studies that demonstrate the importance of key sawfish habitats in and pathways between Andros and Bimini, and how he and his crew were the first to document sawfish birth in the wild. Dr. Grubbs will lead a sawfish expedition to the Abacos in May.
Also in attendance was Dr. Maurice Isaacs, Chair of the Wildlife Conservation and Trade Advisory Committee, who said: “The Bahamas has long supported sawfish protection through various international wildlife treaties. We welcomed this opportunity to explore what more can be done domestically to help sawfish. Recovery efforts stand to benefit not only the species, but the associated ecosystem and, in turn, our economy.”
The Shark Specialist Group of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has identified The Bahamas as a priority country for sawfish protection and a potential leader for securing broader conservation in the region. That designation led to the formation of an Initiative to Save Caribbean Sawfish (ISCS), funded by the Shark Conservation Fund.
Sonja Fordham of Shark Advocates International and founding ISCS member helped plan the Atlantis event. “The enthusiasm for sawfish protection was inspiring and left us eager for continued collaboration toward the policy improvements needed to save this amazing species.”
Images from the event