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Disney Funds Tampa Bay Sawfish Research

Havenworth Coastal Conservation receives funding from the Disney Conservation Fund to support two years of field research and public outreach for endangered smalltooth sawfish.

Disney Funds Tampa Bay Sawfish Research

Tonya Wiley prepares to release a tagged sawfish in Tampa Bay. Photo credit Matthew Bernanke.

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 Disney Conservation Fund is proud to continue providing critical 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.

Havenworth Coastal Conservation 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 endangered smalltooth sawfish in the greater Tampa Bay area, and using local, state, federal, and international policy initiatives to conserve and promote 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 and which resulted in the capture, tagging, and release of two newborn sawfish in spring 2021 on the beach in Redington Shores.

smalltooth sawfish research
There are five species of sawfish worldwide and all of them are either endangered or critically endangered.

“We are very grateful for the support from DCF which allow 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”.

If you ever catch or see a sawfish, please share the information by visiting www.SawfishRecovery.org, calling 1-844-4SAWFISH, emailing sawfish@myfwc.com, or submitting the information through the FWC Reporter app.  Your encounter report just might lead scientists to tag the next endangered smalltooth sawfish in the Tampa Bay area.


smalltooth sawfish tagging
Adam Brame and Tonya Wiley with the first sawfish tagged in Tampa Bay. Photo credit Tonya Wiley.

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.


Havenworth Coastal Conservation, a 501(c)(3) project of The Ocean Foundation, is promoting the sustainable use and conservation of marine resources through research, outreach, and education. To donate visit havenworth.wedid.it.  For information on Disney’s commitment to conserve nature and a complete list of grant recipients, visit www.Disney.com/conservation.

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