Yesterday, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature had updated its species list. Among these updates was an assessment of the entire acipenseriform order.
The Chinese paddlefish was accepted as extinct in 2019, and as a final attempt the IUCN conducted a final assessment in the year, stating that the status would be updated in 2020, but after 2 years the status remained as that of being “critically endangered”.
Yesterday, the IUCN updated the status of the fish, listing it as extinct after several surveys of its native rivers failed to produce any sightings of the giant fish
Unfortunate news indeed. And sadly I predict the rate of animals declared as extinct will rapidly increase as a result of climate change and habitat loss (among various other factors).
So sad, but predictable. This is just one of many wake-up calls we are getting. It won’t be long before a beloved animal goes extinct due to our actions.
i’m sure someone loved the paddlefish…
I don’t think it can be called a wake up call if fish wasn’t seen since 2003.
True, but there is always hope and surveys are always needed! Look at the random find of the Ganges Shark. I think it was a whole decade between sightings, yeah in a fish market, but something.
The Chinese paddlefish’s extinction deserves far more attention than it’s already got. It might be a far more tragic extinction than almost all other modern animal extinctions. Although the studies are widely inconsistent on acipenseriform phylogeny, the most recent study I can find indicates that it diverged from the lineage of the extant American paddlefish during the mid-Cretaceous (100 mya). This would mean that its lineage survived the literal K-Pg extinction before going extinct at the hands of man, and would probably make it the most evolutionarily divergent species to go extinct in modern times. A previous study found a younger age for the divergence (latest Cretaceous), though this too was just before the K-Pg extinction.
And in addition, we haven’t really solved the problems that led to its extinction. Plenty of other Yangtze fish species have become critically endangered or extinct in the wild thanks to the exact same dams that wiped it out. The rate of dam building has slowed in recent decades but still continues, especially in countries with the highest biodiversity levels. Here in the US, the Alabama sturgeon is slated to go extinct in the same manner as the paddlefish, and other fish species could soon follow. Dam removal is taking off but only in developed countries that generally don’t have the same level of aquatic diversity/megafauna, the vast majority are small-scale, and even here the actually impactful ones that are planned (Snake River) are being mired in political debates.
And most frustratingly, I’ve seen an abnormally high amount of articles online branding anyone who doesn’t support massive hydropower schemes a NIMBY. I am a full throated supporter of renewables, believe major sacrifices must be made in some cases, but from what I’ve learned of the paddlefish’s extinction, large-scale hydropower is almost always a bridge too far. And it’s not just the biodiversity cost, but the human cost too.
Oh, sure, hope is there, it’s just not an unexpected turn of events, with all big river fish struggling to survive.
This sucks so hard. Absolutely heartbreaking.
Too bad it was so large. I don’t think even Whooshh! Innovations could have scaled up enough to save it.
Very sad. The same could have happened to the American paddlefish but for the clean water act. There are some dams in its range but the American paddlefish seems to be doing well enough that it is still being caught commercially.in large rivers. I fear that its current healthy status might be most endangered by shifting climate and the introduction of exotics. The paddlefish requires silt free sand bars and water temperature in the 55 to 60 degree F. range. The young are quite vulnerable to predation and reproduction only occurs in individuals older than about 7 years. So lets keep our eyes on our American version of this ancient giant.