ORLANDO, Fla. — SeaWorld Orlando has made history with the births of three endangered smalltooth sawfish pups.
What You Need To Know
- SeaWorld has announced the births of three endangered smalltooth sawfish
- The pups. two females and one male, were born in July
- SeaWorld is the second aquarium in the world to have a successful smalltooth sawfish birth
The sawfish — two females and one male — were born in July, the theme park announced this week, marking the second time any aquarium in the world has had a successful birth of the critically endangered species.
The births of the sawfish, according to SeaWorld, is a major achievement for the conservation of these animals.
“This is an extraordinary success in the realm of sawfish conservation, and it is our privilege to provide world-class care for this critically endangered species,” said Dr. Joseph Gaspard, vice president of zoological operations at SeaWorld Orlando, in a statement. “The birth of these smalltooth pups allows for a greater understanding of how to turn the tide on the declining sawfish populations and spread the message of education to our millions of guests who visit each year.”
Smalltooth sawfish have a shark-like appearance but are actually categorized as rays, with gills and mouths on their undersides.
They are born fully developed and measure about 2 feet in length. Their rostrum — a long, saw-like snout — typically consists of dozens of teeth. It’s covered in a thick material that dissolves within a few days to weeks after birth. SeaWorld officials said that material protects the mother and siblings in utero.
SeaWorld is also the only aquarium in the U.S. to house smalltooth sawfish, which have been protected by the Endangered Species Act since 2003 after population declines from habitat loss.
The sawfish pups’ parents have lived at SeaWorld since the 1980s and are part of the park’s Shark Encounter. The veterinary teams discovered the female sawfish was pregnant during a routine ultrasound in May and moved her to the Aquarium Health Center for monitoring through the birth of the pups.
The sawfish pups have been receiving regular checkups since birth and are being closely monitored in a backstage area as they continue to grow. Fully grown smalltooth sawfish can grow up to 16 feet long, according to NOAA Fisheries.
SeaWorld has not said when park visitors will be able to see the sawfish pups.