Calling all local fishing lovers. Havenworth Coastal Conservation (HCC), based in Palmetto, has been awarded a grant by the Disney Conservation Fund (DCF) to study the endangered smalltooth sawfish (Pristis pectinata) in the Tampa Bay region of Florida.
The DCF provides support to community-led projects creating a healthier home for people and wildlife. The fund has been supporting efforts in diverse communities around the world aimed at saving wildlife, inspiring actions and protecting the planet with more than $120 million distributed to nonprofit organizations since 1995.
HCC received DCF funding to support two years of work using ﬁeld research and public outreach and education to collect crucial information about the historical and current population of the endangered smalltooth sawﬁsh in the Greater Tampa Bay area, along with using local, state, federal and international policy initiatives to conserve and promote the recovery of sawﬁsh and their habitats in the United States.
HCC is nearing completion of three years of funding from the Save Our Seas Foundation, which allowed for the initial investigation into the use of the Tampa Bay region by endangered sawfish, resulting in the capture, tagging and release of two newborn sawfish in spring 2021 on the beach in Redington Shores.
“We are very grateful for the support from DCF which allows us to continue to investigate the use of the region by endangered smalltooth sawfish,” said Tonya Wiley, president of Havenworth Coastal Conservation and lead investigator for sawfish research in the Greater Tampa Bay area. “This funding is critical to our ability to continue our sawfish-related research efforts and expand our public outreach and education initiatives in Sarasota, Manatee, Hillsborough, Pinellas, Hernando and Pasco Counties.”
DCF grant recipients are selected based on their efforts to implement comprehensive community wildlife conservation programs, stabilize and increase populations of at-risk animals and engage communities in conservation in critical ecosystems around the world.
If you ever catch or see a sawfish, please share the information by visiting www.sawfishrecovery.org, calling 1-844-4SAWFISH, emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or submitting the information through the FWC Reporter app. Your encounter report just might lead scientists to tag the next smalltooth sawfish in the Tampa Bay area.