The year 2020 opens its doors with the alarming confirmation of a new extinct species: the Chinese giant rowing fish up to seven meters long. The animal, Psephurus gladius, He lived on the Yangtze River, the third longest in the world with more than 6,300 kilometers and the cradle of more than 400 different species. Since 2009, the call “king of freshwater fish” shows no signs of life, but scientists waited for clearer evidence before giving it up.
A study recently published in the journal Science of the Total Environment He explains that the species suffered a clear decline since 1970 as a result of overfishing and fragmentation of its habitat. In addition, in 1981, humans built the Gezhouba Dam, which blocked the migratory habits of an animal that needs to swim upstream to reproduce and descend again to feed. And the dates match. Between 1981 and 2003, the species was observed only 201 times –95.2% of the sightings were prior to 1995– which since 1996 is declared endangered, according the red list of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature.
The Yangtze River area has undergone intense economic development since the 1950s, with more than 40 cities along its banks. It produces, today, 40% of China’s GDP and supports a third of its population
In 2003 another reservoir was built, that of the Three Gorges, was built and worsened the situation until the last specimens of the rowing fish were finished that, in vain, were looking for new incubation sites. It was the year in which the last sighting was confirmed. The study of researchers from the Freshwater Biodiversity Conservation Laboratory of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs of the People’s Republic of China confirms that the species has disappeared completely and probably between 2005 and 2010. During a comprehensive analysis throughout the region , experts have identified 322 different fish species and none of them, “not even a single specimen,” was a rowing fish.
The Yangtze River area has been subject to intense economic development since the 1950s, with more than 40 cities along its banks. It produces, today, 40% of China’s gross domestic product and supports a third of its population, according to study data. Because of this growth in favor of human welfare, that of animals has been forgotten. More than 70 aquatic animals are classified as species in national or international protection. Under such industrial pressure and due to water pollution, the Yangtze River ecosystem could collapse, according to the study whose main objective is to optimize efforts to conserve a fauna that urgently needs it.
Under such human pressure and due to water pollution, the Yangtze River ecosystem could collapse
To Carles Lalueza-Fox, researcher of the Institute of Evolutionary Biology, a mixed center of the Pompeu Fabra University (UPF) and of Superior Council of Scientific Investigations (CSIC), unfortunately, you are not surprised by this type of alert. “I fear that these notifications will be increasingly frequent and in a way show the limits of traditional conservation efforts, “he says.”Although the waters of the Chinese rivers have improved in quality in the last two or three years, thanks to governmental efforts, this improvement seems to have been late not only for this fish, but also, for example, for the baiji, the Yangtze dolphin , declared extinct in 2006, “he continues. After this disappearance and that of the Chinese shad in 2015, the Government of the Asian country banned commercial fishing for 10 years, but it is still not enough.