Sawfishes are considered the world’s most threatened elasmobranchs (sharks, rays, and skates), and yet few people know about these amazingly unique animals. There are five species of sawfish in the world and all are classified as critically endangered or endangered by The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
International Sawfish Day is an annual event held on October 17 to raise awareness of these vulnerable rays, and to highlight the threats they face, in order to safeguard their future. Founded by the European and American Associations of Zoos and Aquariums and the Sawfish Conservation Society, the first International Sawfish Day was celebrated in 2017.
Last year for the inaugural International Sawfish Day, more than 50 participating organizations from around the world, including public aquaria, conservation agencies, and research facilities, held celebrations and events, shared messages and images on social media, and helped spread the word about endangered sawfish. “Sawfish Swag” became a popular novelty, and ultimately more than 7,500 keychains and buttons were given away at events, conferences, and education outreach programs across the globe. Social media posts and interactive events at public aquaria and zoos reached hundreds of thousands of people in the days leading up to, including, and following International Sawfish Day. Fundraising efforts contributed to sawfish field programs in the Sudan. In addition to the awareness generated for sawfish, International Sawfish Day helped strengthen the collaborative relationships between the public aquarium community and research and field conservation organizations.
On October 17, 2018 the second International Sawfish Day is expected to be even bigger and better! Events will be held online and at aquariums, museums, zoos, schools, and other institutions and organizations around the world. The American Association of Zoos and Aquariums will coordinate a fundraiser to contribute to sawfish research. Information about events and the fundraiser can be found at www.InternationalSawfishDay.org.
Want to get involved? Resources are available from the Sawfish Conservation Society to help you celebrate in style or host your own event, and to increase your knowledge of all five species of sawfish. You can print posters and handouts, and discover fun sawfish craft ideas. You can also buy an official International Sawfish Day t-shirt to proudly wear on October 17—or any day—to promote the conservation of sawfishes. Information about scheduled events and other International Sawfish Day resources can be found at www.SawfishConservationSociety.org.
Did you know October 17 is International Sawfish Day?
What will you do to celebrate sawfish on October 17?
Tonya Wiley, President
Tax-deductible donations to help us continue our mission to promote the sustainable use and conservation of marine resources through research, outreach, and education can be made at https://www.oceanfdn.org/donate/havenworth-coastal-conservation
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