A Historical Record of Sawfish in the Southern Gulf of Mexico: Evidence of Diversity Loss Using Old Photos

Screen-Shot-2015-02-09-at-1.42.22-PM-300x192ABSTRACT: Despite the conspicuous character of sawfish (Pristis spp.) in shallow estuarine waters, current records in the southern Gulf of Mexico are so scarce that they have been declared locally extinct from many areas where they formerly occurred (Fernandez-Carvalho et al. 2013). In Mexican waters of the Gulf of Mexico, historical reports for sawfish exist for the upper Usumacinta River (Emiliano Zapata City), Chiltepec Lagoon in Tabasco (Castro-Aguirre et al. 1999), and the Términos Lagoon, Campeche (Zarur 1962) in the 1960s; however, recent but occasional reports are restricted to Mexican Caribbean waters (Schmitter-Soto et al. 2009). Here, we present an anonymous photo (see p. 55) taken in the 1950s in Frontera City, Tabasco, Mexico, found during our fieldwork on reconstructing past fishery conditions based on the traditional ecological knowledge from fishers of the Tabasco coast. This enlightening image is currently part of the electronic historical collection of local chronicler Placido Santana, who donated a copy to support our research. Based on tooth size and first dorsal fin position, this sawfish was likely a 6-m-long Largetooth Sawfish (Pristis pristis) caught in the lower Grijalva River; this photo represents the only documented record for the lower Grijalva-Usumacinta River. According to senior fishers interviewed in the Port of Frontera, in the rear of the photo is an antique canoe (calculated 7 m length) made from the wood of large trees, such as the balsa tree (Ochroma pyramidale) or the endangered horse-eye bean (Ormosia macrocalyx; Diario Oficial de la Federación 2010). Inside the right side of the canoe, there are fishing nets made from henequen (Agave fourcroydes) natural fibers (Ramírez 2005), which were used by artisanal fishermen in southern Mexico prior to the appearance of nylon fishing nets in the 1960–1970s (Espinoza-Tenorio et al. 2011). by Manuel Mendoza-Carranza and Alejandro Espinoza-Tenorio Access your special Members-Only content → 

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