Many local residents probably don’t know much about the endangered smalltooth sawfish, but the Palm Harbor Museum is providing an opportunity to learn all about this species with a special library presentation.

The smalltooth sawfish is one of five critically endangered species of sawfish, living in only a handful of places in the world. Florida’s Gulf Coast is the only location in the United States where they can be found.

To learn more, come to a program on Wednesday, June 7, at 6:30 p.m. at the Palm Harbor Library. As part of the Palm Harbor Museum Presents series, Gregg R. Poulakis, Ph. D, with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, will present “The Endangered Smalltooth Sawfish in Florida.”

All are invited to this event at no charge. Walk-ins are welcome and reservations are not required, but they do help museum volunteers plan for the evening. Reservations may be secured on Eventbrite. 

The smalltooth sawfish is an elasmobranch – a species whose skeletons are made of flexible cartilage rather than bone – and are actually rays (rather than sharks) with gills and mouths that are found on the underside of their bodies. The large, flat snout edged with teeth like a saw gives them their name and allows them to eat and thrive. Females return to the same location in shallow brackish waters near land to reproduce – so loss of habitat in addition to net fishing has led to critical endangerment of this species.

In the United States, though not in all locations in the world, it is illegal to catch, harm, harass or kill a sawfish. When capturing a sawfish while fishing for other species, it is essential to handle and release it safely to protect and save this species and especially not to damage or cut off the snout with its teeth, as it then cannot eat and will die a slow death of starvation. 

The Palm Harbor Library is located at 2330 Nebraska Ave. (between Belcher Road and US 19), Palm Harbor. The the program will be given in the Community Room (first room to your right as you enter the library). There is plenty of free parking at the library.


Smalltooth museum exhibit

An all-ages interactive new exhibit featuring the smalltooth sawfish is on display at Palm Harbor Museum through month’s end. The museum is located at 2043 Curlew Road (at Belcher Road).

The smalltooth sawfish exhibit features items in the museum collection identified and organized by volunteer Chrystal Murray Hadden, retired from Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission and Fish & Wildlife Research Institute.

“As a Palm Harbor Museum volunteer and former FWC/FWRI marine scientist, I am proud to play a part in bringing the smalltooth sawfish story to Pinellas County,” Hadden said.

Sawfish have a strong shark-like body, a flat underside and a flat head. There is a full-length replica in the exhibit. On display are fascinating specimens of sawfish "saws" (this is the long rostrum with sharp "teeth" on either side), jaws of sawfish, skates and sharks, and wet specimen baby sharks. Most exhibit items are on loan from Dr. Poulakis and from the Ichthyology Collection at Fish & Wildlife Research Institute. 

As part of the exhibit, visitors may attempt to assemble an adult-sized smalltooth sawfish puzzle, created by Aaron Fortner. The puzzle gives visitors a reference point of the sawfish’s size. They grow extremely large, up to 17 feet and 700 pounds.


Library cabinet exhibit

A cabinet exhibit, "Under the Sea, Local Marine Life," is set for display at Palm Harbor Library from May 26 to Aug. 26, in collaboration with Palm Harbor Museum. It will spotlight creatures that live in the ocean habitats offshore of north Pinellas County.

Artwork depicting local Marine Life will be on display in the Palm Harbor Library Community Room. Featured artists will include Christopher Still, Vivek Lakhotia and Rebecca Hallstrom.

For the library’s quarterly displays, librarians meet with volunteers at Palm Harbor Museum to determine themes, based on items in the Palm Harbor Museum's collection. Local artists, educators, and specialists are contacted and invited to augment each theme. 


Volunteers Needed 

The Palm Harbor Museum is looking for friendly hosts and hostesses to greet visitors, provide brief tours sharing information about the museum’s historic buildings and the Palm Harbor region, perform light housekeeping tasks and assist with other projects as needed.

Training is provided. Requirements include being able to commit to a weekly 2- to 4-hour shift, during the hours of 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. Event volunteers are also needed. Those interested should contact the museum at 

The museum is open for self-guided tours from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. Children are welcome.

Admission is free but donations are accepted. Masks are encouraged inside the buildings and hand sanitizer is available. For more information,, call 727-724-3054 or email