TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA)—NOAA’s Office of Law Enforcement is offering a reward for information after six critically endangered sawfish were found dead in the Florida Everglades.
Wildlife officials said an Everglades National Park employee notified the NOAA after the sawfish were found dead with two bonnethead sharks along a causeway between Everglades City and Chokoloskee Island.
Officials said two of the sawfish were missing their rostra (saws), and another fish had its meat removed. A necropsy will be performed to determine their exact cause of death.
The smalltooth sawfish was actually the first marine fish to receive federal protection as an endangered species under the Endangered Species Act in 2003. The NOAA says coastal development and accidental capture in fisheries has led to a decline in populations.
“Smalltooth sawfish reproduce every other year and give birth to just 7-14 young. The loss of these six animals is nearly equivalent to one mother’s entire litter,” the Florida Fish and Wildlife Research Institute said on Facebook.
Wildlife officials posted a $20,000 reward on Facebook Thursday. Those with information are asked to call NOAA Enforcement Hotline at 1-800-853-1964.
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