Mote Marine Joins Emergency Response to Save "Spinning" Small Tooth Sawfish

A critically endangered small tooth sawf

Photo: TORSTEN BLACKWOOD / AFP / Getty Images

(Sarasota, FL) - Mote Marine Laboratory is joining the FWC and NOAA in launching an emergency response to save the endangered small tooth sawfish.

These endangered rays are suffering from an odd "whirling" behavior and death in the Florida Keys.

Over the past few months “spinning” fish have been spotted in South Florida along with reports of fish deaths, including 28 small tooth sawfish as of March 24.

Scientists don't know what is causing the odd spinning behavior. More than 100 sawfish measuring up to 14 feet long have been affected.

The death of small tooth sawfish was listed under the Endangered Species Act in 2003. The decline in the South Florida population of the critically endangered ray could negatively impact the species recovery.

Mote president Dr. Michael Crosby says they have to do more than just observe the problem. He says that Mote scientists are now ready to rescue, quarantine and rehabilitate these spinning rays and at the same time determine what is causing the odd behavior.

Dr. Crosby says now the species is under attack by some unknown agent. He says, "This is a dire situation with no smoking gun as to what is causing the sawfish distress. "

If you see a distressed sawfish contact FWC.

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