, Volume 7, Issue 3, pp 207-228

Life history implications of a tagging study of the largetooth sawfish, Pristis perotteti, in the Lake Nicaragua-Río San Juan system

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Synopsis

Of a total of 377 Pristis perotteti tagged in the Lake Nicaragua-Río San Juan System, 214 (56.8% were recovered. Eighty were recovered at the original tagging site; four moved downstream the full length of the river; and 127 tagged at the source of the river were recovered in all parts of the lake. Only one was recovered in a different river system, 58 km down the coast from the main mouth of the Río San Juan.

A life span of 30 years is suggested, with rapid growth (30–40 cm per year) in the first three years, slowing to about 4 or 5 cm per year in the later years of life. Maximum sizes collected were 384 cm for males, 429 cm for females, smaller than maximum lengths reported elsewhere.

The lake sawfish are not physically landlocked, but individuals remain in fresh water for very long periods; parturition takes place in fresh water; all sizes are found in the lake; and it appears that this stock finds all of its ecological needs met in the lake. Individuals may spend all of their lives in fresh water, although, as a species, P. perotteti has not completely abandoned the sea, since some are known to occur in salt water. The Lake Nicaragua-Río San Juan sawfish are a discrete stock, with only limited gene flow with neighboring stocks.

P. perotteti is farther along in its adaptation to fresh water, in being able both to osmoregulate and reproduce there, than other known euryhaline elasmobranchs, except for the African stingray, Dasyatis garouaensis, of the Niger-Benue System, and the completely adapted South American freshwater rays (family Potamotrygonidae).