Here’s an interesting story on the New York Times environment blog about the plight of the possibly-extinct Chinese paddlefish.
From the story:
_For Chinese Paddlefish, a Long Goodbye:
While some wildlife seems to do better around civilization than in the wild, in earth’s most crowded places, like the corridor along the Yangtze River, there is a different outcome. First, scientists recorded the vanishing and apparent extinction of the baiji, a dolphin species unique to that river. Now another denizen, the Chinese paddlefish, Psephurus gladius — which measures up to 20 feet long and decades ago was commonly seen leaping above the waters — appears to be on the verge of extinction, if not already gone forever. A three-year survey of the fish’s normal haunts in the upper stretches of the river by Chinese biologists has turned up nothing. “It is strongly suggested that P. gladius is on the verge of extinction,” the researchers wrote, “and further rigid measures are proposed to save the very few remaining specimens.”_
Besides being yet another example of the mind-boggling environmental destruction China is willing to endure in its push toward manufacturing primacy, it’s also of concern to Americans because this amazing fish is found only in China and a few river systems in the United States. Two years ago I finally got the chance to catch a paddlefish and I became fascinated both with the fish itself and the environmental pressures – both homegrown and international – that threaten it. It truly is one of our most unique, underrated, and threatened gamefish species.
And if it is indeed true that the Chinese paddlefish has disappeared forever, the issue of how to protect our own paddlefish – the last ones in the entire world – just got a lot more urgent.