Fish have been reported “spinning”—an abnormal behavior—and dying during the past few months in south Florida. This emerging problem is threatening an iconic species, the smalltooth sawfish. Sawfish deaths are spiking, which could have devastating consequences for this critically endangered ray.

Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium is playing a critical role in the response effort—including a potential team initiative to rescue, rehabilitate and release sawfish under the direction of state and federal agencies. You can help.

Help us respond to this urgent challenge

A Vital Response Effort

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has initiated an emergency response effort with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), Mote Marine Laboratory, and other partners including Havenworth Coastal Conservation, Dynasty Marine Associates, Inc., and Ripley’s Aquariums, to possibly rescue, rehabilitate, and release smalltooth sawfish impacted by this mortality event. Investigations into the abnormal fish behavior and deaths by FWC are ongoing and Mote staff, working with FWC, have collected important samples from live distressed sawfish.

Mote is committed to continue its ongoing efforts to help save sawfish. We stand ready 24/7 to rescue and care for these animals, an unprecedented team effort that would only be undertaken if requested by state and federal agencies. If this opportunity arises, Mote is prepared to house sawfish in our quarantine facilities under the observation of our qualified team following specific care and release guidelines.

Mote President & CEO Dr. Michael P. Crosby pledges that, “without any clear source of financial support, we have committed Mote resources without hesitation to this significant, challenging and unprecedented initiative because this is at the heart of our mission and why Mote exists—using best available science to rescue, restore and conserve our precious marine species, habitats and ecosystems. In the end, our goal is to release healthy sawfish back into the wild.”

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