One of the largest freshwater fish species in the world, the Chinese paddlefish, has been declared extinct by scientists in a report published by ScienceDirect. The 150 million-year-old species had not been sighted by humans since 2003, and are suggested to have gone extinct between 2005 and 2010.
According to CNN, the fish could reach lengths of 23 feet (7 meters) and weigh up to 450 kilograms.
In the report, entitled ‘Extinction of one of the world's largest freshwater fishes: Lessons for conserving the endangered Yangtze fauna,’ anthropogenic stressors, which can include urbanization, land-use change, deforestation and other factors, have intensified a continuous loss of diversity in the Yangtze river.
Fishing for Chinese paddlefish goes back centuries and reportedly reached 25 tons in the 1970s, but factors like overfishing and habitat fragmentation resulted in the number of 'Chinese swordfish' declining rapidly after the ’70s.
Image via ScienceDirect
The report is based on a study of the Yangtze basin during 2017 and 2018, which found 332 fish species. It notes that 140 historically reported fish had not been sighted and are considered highly endangered. Accordingly, the report states that conservation efforts for endangered Yangtze fish species are urgently needed.
Netizens are predictably unhappy about the news. One Weibo user wrote, “This world was once colorful, now only humans are left,” while another echoed the sentiment that humans are destroying diverse animal ecosystems, writing, “When will humans become extinct.”
[Cover image via Wikimedia]