Giant Chinese Fish Is Now Extinct After Surviving Millions of Years
Scientists have concluded of the largest freshwater fish species in the world is now extinct because of human activity.
The Chinese paddlefish, sometimes called the "panda of the Yangtze River," was found to have been lost to overfishing and habitat destruction, Phys.org reported Wednesday. Its extinction was announced and documented by researchers at the Chinese Academy of Fishery Sciences in a paper published in Science of the Total Environment.
It's "a reprehensible and an irreparable loss," study leader Qiwei Wei told National Geographic.
The Chinese paddlefish could grow to be 23 feet long and 992 pounds in weight, according to CNN. It took its name from its long snout, according to Phys.org. It was also ancient: The species had existed since 200 million years ago and survived the extinction of the dinosaurs, National Geographic pointed out.
The species declined slowly in the last century, at first because of fishing. In the 1970s, 25 tons worth were caught a year. But an even more devastating change came when the Gezhouba Dam was built on the Yangtze in 1981, dividing the fish from its spawning grounds. The scientists think the species was functionally extinct by 1993, meaning there weren't enough of them left to reproduce effectively. The last time scientists saw one alive was 2003.
The study authors searched for evidence of the fish from 2017 to 2018 by setting up nets and visiting fish markets but found no evidence that any were left alive, Phys.org explained. The researchers think it died out between 2005 and 2010 and recommend that it be considered extinct according to IUCN Red List criteria, the study said.
"There have been no successful cases of breeding the Chinese paddlefish in captivity," Wei told state broadcaster CCTV, as CNN reported. "Hence, when it died out in the wild, the species has become completely extinct."
While it is too late to save the Chinese paddlefish, the researchers hope to use the lessons from its demise to save other endangered species that live in the Yangtze. The study authors could not find another 140 river species they wanted to see and think it is important to study some of them further to determine their conservation status, according to National Geographic.
"We must urgently act to save those species for which some chance still remains," Ivan Jaric, a study co-author and biologist at Czechia's Institute of Hydrobiology and the University of South Bohemia, told National Geographic.
The Chinese paddlefish's fate also shines a spotlight on large freshwater fish worldwide. Most big freshwater animals are threatened with extinction, University of Nevada, Reno fish biologist Zeb Hogan, who was not involved with the study, told National Geographic.
"This is the first of these very large freshwater fish to go and many are at risk—the concern is that more will go extinct, but the hope is that we can reverse their decline before it's too late," Hogan said.
- Last Known Female of Endangered Turtle Species Dies - EcoWatch ›
- Climate Change and Overfishing Could Lead to More Toxic Seafood ... ›
By Andrea Germanos
Fed up with "empty promises" from world leaders, a dozen youth activists on Wednesday demanded newly sworn-in President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris take swift and bold climate action — even more far-reaching than promised on the campaign trail — stating that their "present and future depend on the actions your government takes within the next four years."
- Stories From the Youth Climate Movement in the Global South ... ›
- Young Climate Leaders Conclude Mock COP26 With Calls for ... ›
- Climate Activist Greta Thunberg Endorses Biden in Tweet - EcoWatch ›
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
When wind turbine blades reach the end of their usefulness, most are sawed into transportable pieces and hauled to landfills, where they never break down. Because of the resources and energy that go into producing these blades, this type of disposal is inefficient and wasteful. Recently, several innovative companies have begun brainstorming better ways to repurpose this green technology after it goes offline.
- World's Largest Solar Project and Floating Wind Turbine Signal ... ›
- Wind Power Costs Could See Another 50% Reduction by 2030 ... ›
New fossils uncovered in Argentina may belong to one of the largest animals to have walked on Earth.
- Groundbreaking Fossil Shows Prehistoric 15-Foot Reptile Tried to ... ›
- Skull of Smallest Known Dinosaur Found in 99-Million-Year Old Amber ›
- Giant 'Toothed' Birds Flew Over Antarctica 40 Million Years Ago ... ›
- World's Second-Largest Egg Found in Antarctica Probably Hatched ... ›
- Pruitt Guts the Clean Power Plan: How Weak Will the New EPA ... ›
- It's Official: Trump Administration to Repeal Clean Power Plan ... ›
- 'Deadly' Clean Power Plan Replacement ›
By Jonathan Runstadler and Kaitlin Sawatzki
Over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, researchers have found coronavirus infections in pet cats and dogs and in multiple zoo animals, including big cats and gorillas. These infections have even happened when staff were using personal protective equipment.
- Gorillas in San Diego Test Positive for Coronavirus - EcoWatch ›
- Wildlife Rehabilitators Are Overwhelmed During the Pandemic. In ... ›
- Coronavirus Pandemic Linked to Destruction of Wildlife and World's ... ›
- Utah Mink Becomes First Wild Animal to Test Positive for Coronavirus ›