• age and growth;
  • endangered species;
  • length frequency;
  • Pristidae;
  • tag recapture

The growth rates of juvenile smalltooth sawfish Pristis pectinata collected in Florida waters between 1999 and 2006 were investigated using length-frequency and tag-recapture data. Stretched total length (LST) data from 144 smalltooth sawfish (690–4960 mm) and 28 recaptures (775–2150 mm) were used for the analyses. Both methods indicated that growth was rapid during the first 2 years after birth. The LST increased by 650–850 mm in the first year, and by 480–680 mm in the second year. Data for animals >2200 mm were limited, so growth beyond 2 years of age was uncertain. The von Bertalanffy growth parameters estimated from LST frequency data were L= 6000 mm, K= 0·140 year−1 and t0=−0·863 years. Growth rates over the size range for which tag-recapture data were available were similar to that from LST frequency data. The growth rates reported are substantially faster than those previously assumed for this species and may have important implications for the recovery of this endangered species. There are conflicting data regarding the growth rates of older P. pectinata which need to be resolved with more data from the wild population before a complete understanding of the conservation implications can be obtained.