Chinese Paddlefish Declared Extinct
The Chinese paddlefish, also known as the “Chinese swordfish,” is part of a group of fish believed to have been around since the Lower Jurassic period, according to CNN. Rather, it was, until those pesky humans came along and wiped the species right off the face of the Earth like doodles on a dry erase board.
The Chinese paddlefish was the big fish on China’s Yangtze river campus for around 200 million years, reaching lengths of 23 feet and nearly 1000 pounds. But this silver-bodied, long-snouted finster hasn’t been seen since 2003, which is long enough for it to be declared extinct. Thus, its reign has come to an end. How did this happen?
Up Yangtze River without a paddlefish
Per CNN, “the species was most diverse and widespread between 34 million and 75 million years ago, and was common in the Yangtze River until the late 1970s, when its population started to dwindle due to overfishing and habitat fragmentation.” Ah, a familiar tale — we caught too many of them and forced them out of their habitat like a prominent New York businessman might do to undesired tenants.
The paddlefish was only listed as a critically endangered species in 2009, at which point it is already believed to have vanished, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), and though China listed the fish as a nationally protected animal in the 1980s, “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.”
The news of the loss of this iconic fish has helped spur a 10-year commercial fishing ban in over 300 conservation zones along the river, but just as a reminder, the article notes that a United Nations report states “up to 1 million species” are at risk of extinction … and those are just the ones we’re aware of. So, let’s pour one out for our fallen Chinese paddlefish brethren, and at the very least, recycle our plastic grocery bags.
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