The Chinese paddlefish was the giant of the Yangtze, which was up to 22 feet long, becomes the first species of the new decade to be declared extinct due to overfishing and habitat loss. Its scientific name is Psephurus gladius and was given other names by the Chinese because of its diverse aspects of the unusual fish such as swordfish and king of the freshwater fish.
The giant species, native to the Yangtze River, could reach up to 7 meters (23 feet) in length and weigh as much as 450 kilograms (992 pounds). The fish is well known for its silver-coloured body and long snout and was one of two extant members of a lineage that goes back 75 million years.
The Yangtze River is the longest in Asia and the third-longest in the world. But due to various human activities such as the creation of dams and river ports, overfishing and pollution the paddlefish has become the third Yangzte-dwelling species to go extinct in recent years, following the Yangtze River dolphin, or baiji, in 2006, and the Chinese shad in 2015.
The giant Chinese paddlefish, one of the earth’s largest freshwater fish species which had survived for millions of years, has been declared extinct, according to new research by fisheries experts in China. A resident of the Yangtze river pointed out that it was last seen back in the year 2003 and it’s speculated that it disappeared from the face of the earth sometime between 2005 and 2010.
According to one scientist in the respective study, the loss of such unique and charismatic megafauna representative of freshwater ecosystems is a reprehensible and irreparable loss and its growing rarity helped give it the name the “panda of the Yangtze River.”
It was listed as a critically endangered species in 1996 following an earlier survey by the same scientists, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). China listed the fish as a nationally protected animal in the 1980s, but the IUCN said the construction of dams on the Yangtze River continued to block its migration route and prevented it from breeding in the upper reaches of the river.
IUCN scientists have said that there is no image evidence of the species since 2009. This comes as another blow for the struggling 3,915-mile (6,300-kilometer) river ecosystem, which houses over 4,000 aquatic species. Moreover, many other species already listed as critically endangered, like the finless porpoise and Chinese sturgeon, are in danger of extinction.
For this reason, Beijing has announced a 10-year commercial fishing ban on the Yangtze starting this month in a bid to allow the dwindling fish to recover as well as the decreasing biodiversity of the river to replenish.