London, September 30 (ANI): Reports indicate that the giant Chinese paddlefish, which is one of the world's largest freshwater fish, is on the verge of going extinct.
According to a report by BBC News, a three-year quest to find the giant Chinese paddlefish in the Yangtze river failed to sight or catch a single individual.
The fish, which can grow up to 7m long, has not been seen alive for at least six years.
There remains a chance that some escaped the survey and survive, but without action, the future of the species is bleak.
A number of fish species vie for the position of the world's largest freshwater fish, including the arapaima of the Amazon river and the Mekong giant catfish.
At up to 7m, the Chinese paddlefish is much longer than either, though it may not exclusively live in freshwater.
The fish is suspected to be anadromous, meaning it spends some of its life in marine waters before returning to the river to spawn.
But it is so rare that little is known about its behaviour, life history, migration habits and population structure.
It is endemic to the Yangtze river system in China.
"It has special characteristics such as its sword-like rostrum. Some people call it the 'elephant fish' and we found out it swims on the surface of the water like a whale," said Professor Wei Qiwei, one of the leaders of the research team from the Chinese Academy of Fisheries Science in Jingzhou, China.
The last confirmed sighting of a Chinese paddlefish was made in the river on 24 January 2003.
Now, scientists have published the results of a three-year survey to find and locate the fish.
Professor Wei and colleagues surveyed the upper Yangtze river between Xinshi, Sichuan Province and Chongqing, covering a distance of 488.5km.
Most of this stretch of water lies within the Upper Yangtze National Nature Reserve, a protected area.
Between 2006 and 2008, the team used a number of boats to deploy 4762 setlines, 111 anchored setlines and 950 drift nets in a bid to catch the fish.
They failed to catch a single individual.
The team also used hydroacoustic equipment that beams sound through the water to create a picture of the river and anything in it.
This identified nine possible targets, of which two could be paddlefish, according to the researchers. But, they could not confirm these finds.
The fish now appears on the brink of extinction, according to the scientists. (ANI)