The Yangtze River paddlefish is extinct

Science & Health


SupChina illustration by Derek Zheng

The Yangtze (长江 cháng jiāng) is the longest river in Asia, and the longest in the world to flow entirely within one country, all the way from the Tibetan Plateau to its mouth on the East China Sea near Shanghai.

Sadly, pollution and overfishing have decimated the unique ecosystem of the river, endangering species such as the Yangtze finless porpoise and the Chinese alligator. Last week, the Chinese government announced a 10-year ban on commercial fishing on the Yangtze River. But this came too late for one of the great river’s native species. The South China Morning Post reports:

The Chinese paddlefish, one of the world’s largest freshwater fish species and a native of the Yangtze River system, has been declared extinct.

Also known as the Chinese swordfish, the species grows up to 7 meters long and is believed to have vanished between 2005 and 2010. Chinese scientists made the announcement in a research paper published in Science of the Total Environment last week.