Sawfish  (Pristis ) are distinguished by the prolongation of the snout into a formidable weapon bordered on each side by sharp teeth. Some species are found off the southern coasts of North America and in the Gulf of Mexico, and in the Mediterranean and many other seas. With its saw, which is sometimes six feet in length, the sawfish slashes or rips up its prey, and its assault is often fatal to large whales.
The sawfishes, of which several tropical species are known, besides one common in the Atlantic and Mediterranean, are among the most remarkable of oceanic fishes. The body is slender, sharklike, and of great power. The head is flattened, and the snout projects into a hard, flat, sword-shaped beak, the edges of which are thickly studded with sharp teeth; and this singular weapon places all the large inhabitants of the ocean at the mercy of this powerful marauder—it is the worst enemy of whales, even, in the warmer seas, as is the "killer" in the Arctic region. With it the sawfish cuts and slashes, tearing off pieces of flesh, or ripping open the abdomen of its opponent, then seizing the detached pieces. One can easily picture to himself the slaughter when a sawfish dashes into a school of fishes, squids, or porpoises, and slashes right and left with his ripsaw of a beak. Some of the Oriental species reach, and even exceed, twenty feet in length, and Dr. Day, the Indian ichthyologist, says that such monsters have been known to cut bathers completely in two. The saw of a twenty-foot fish would measure six feet in length and a foot across the base.