佛罗里达州盖恩斯维尔— The BP oil blowout in the Gulf of Mexico threatens the existence of a critically endangered 锯fish and its relative that recently has been proposed to join it as the only two marine fish in United States waters to receive such federal protection, says a University of Florida researcher.
The largetooth 锯fish, a popular curio item known for its 锯like snout, was proposed as a federally endangered species on May 7, less than three weeks after massive amounts of oil started gushing into Gulf waters, said 乔治·伯吉斯 a UF ichthyologist and 锯fish expert.
“The oil spill will not only have very dire effects on such highly visible creatures as seabirds and dolphins, but also threatens a multitude of bottom-dwelling organisms including the smalltooth 锯fish, which already is in considerable trouble as its range diminished and its numbers dwindled,” he said.
什么’s left of the smalltooth 锯fish population is confined to the lower peninsula of Florida, Burgess said, with the most important area ranging from Charlotte Harbor through the Ten Thousand Islands area of the Everglades into Florida Bay and the Keys.
“当石油陷入环流时，它将被拉入墨西哥湾流，该水流将在美国东部海岸的基韦斯特（Key West）沿途到达，” Burgess said. “严重的生态问题的机会令人难以置信，这对’如果石油到达重要的红树林栖息地，该物种将在西北大西洋中消失。”
The largetooth 锯fish, which was most common in the northwestern Gulf of Mexico, has not been encountered in decades. Its close relative, the smalltooth 锯fish, was listed as an endangered species in 2003 and survives in the U.S. only at the southern tip of Florida.
Conservationists had hoped conditions would become favorable for both 锯fish species eventually to stage a comeback in Gulf waters, Burgess said. Far more common to South and Central America, the largetooth 锯fish migrated up the Central American coast during the summer into the Gulf, the edge of its natural geographic range, he said.
“如果重要的水下栖息地遭到破坏，这两个物种都将无处可寻，” he said. “They can’回到水下沙漠。”
国家海洋渔业局’s proposed listing of the largetooth 锯fish as an endangered species came after UF researchers provided detailed information about its distribution range and trends in abundance to federal officials in response to a petition asking that the fish receive the designation.
In 2008, five years after the smalltooth 锯fish was listed as endangered, UF became keeper of the National Sawfish Encounter Database. Besides serving as its overseer, Burgess also is curator of the International Shark Attack File. Both national records collections are housed at the Florida Museum of Natural History on the UF campus.
For the past two years, Burgess and other UF researchers have documented sightings and captures of the smalltooth 锯fish as part of an effort to gather information about its range, habitat and abundance. 那 information is used by the Smalltooth Sawfish Recovery Team to develop a plan to help speed the species’ recovery.
It takes longer for 锯fish to rebound than other species because of its relatively slow growth rate and its late onset of sexual maturity, Burgess said. “我们的恢复计划涵盖了100年，这可以很好地表明动物所处的困境，” he said.