Chinese paddlefish

Chinese paddlefish
Chinese Paddlefish
Conservation status
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Actinopterygii
Order: Acipenseriformes
Family: Polyodontidae
Genus: Psephurus
Günther, 1873
Species: P. gladius
Binomial name
Psephurus gladius
(E. von Martens, 1862)

Polyodon gladius
Polyodon angustifolium

Chinese Paddlefish, Psephurus gladius (simplified Chinese: 白鲟; traditional Chinese: 白鱘; pinyin: báixún), also known as Chinese Swordfish, are among the largest freshwater fish. It is one of two extant paddlefish species, the other being the American Paddlefish (Polyodon spathula). It is also called "elephant fish" (象魚; xiàngyú) because its snout resembles an elephant trunk. It is recorded sometimes in Classical Chinese as wěi-fish (鮪). More poetically, it is sometimes referred to as the "Giant Panda of the Rivers", not because of any physical resemblance to a panda, but because of its rarity and protected status.

The Chinese Paddlefish is the People's Republic of China's first-level protected animal. Its belly is white and back and head grey. They live mostly in the middle or lower part of the Yangtze (Chang Jiang), occasionally in large lakes. They feed on other fish, as well as small amounts of crabs and crayfish. Paddlefish are sexually mature at age seven or eight, with a typical body length of 2 metres and a weight of 25 kilograms.

It is said that the zoologist Bǐng Zhì (秉志) recorded around the 1950s that some fishermen caught a paddlefish of 7-metres, although the authenticity of the story is unconfirmed. It is said that the Chinese paddlefish can grow to 23 feet and weigh 1,100 pounds, but little research on a maximum size can be conducted today due to the species' scarcity.

Due to overfishing, the Chinese Paddlefish is critically endangered now, and officially recognized by the People's Republic in 1983 to prevent fishing of paddlefish young or adults. Paddlefish are also threatened by dams (such as the Three Gorges Dam) which divide the population into isolated groups. The fish are rarely seen, recently raising concerns that the species might already be extinct. During a three-year search conducted from 2006-2008 a research team from the Chinese Academy of Fisheries Science in Jingzhou failed to find even one specimen.[1] The last confirmed sighting of the fish alive occurred January 24, 2003 on the Yangtze.[1] However, a 3.6-meter, 250 kilogram specimen was captured by illegal fishing on January 8, 2007, in Jiayu County. He[who?] contacted officials who rushed to the site. Zeb Hogan of Monster Fish on National Geographic Channel and other conservationists transferred the fish to a holding pen in hope that it would survive. But shortly after it died due to unrecoverable injuries attained while thrashing in the net.[2]


  • Froese, Rainer, and Daniel Pauly, eds. (2010). "Psephurus gladius" in FishBase. July 2010 version.
  • Sturgeon Specialist Group (1996). Psephurus gladius. 2006. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. IUCN 2006. Retrieved on 11 May 2006. Listed as Critically Endangered (CR A2cd v2.3)
  1. ^ a b Bourton, Jody (2009-09-29). "Giant fish 'verges on extinction'". BBC News (London: BBC). Retrieved 2009-09-29. 
  2. ^ "Chinese Paddlefish Dies in Illegal Fishing" (in English). (China Radio International). 2007-01-12. Retrieved 2009-09-29. 

External links

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