Endangered Yangtze Sturgeon Caught and Saved

October 25, 2007 Updated: October 25, 2007

An unusual fish washed ashore near Yenpin Dam of Yibin City, Sichuan Province, the afternoon of October 19.

The fish was identified as Darby's sturgeon, an endangered species that has earned the title “panda under water,” and is among the first class of protected animals in China.

After receiving urgent care, the fish was safely released back into the Yangtze River.

According to the China West City Daily, a worker, surnamed Lou, found the fish while washing his hands at the riverside. He didn't recognize the fish; however, since the fish weighed about 7 pounds, he was ready to sell it for a good price. The strange-looking fish immediately drew a crowd. A woman offered to pay 70 yuan (approximately US$9.36) to buy the fish. Liao Cheng, a passerby who had seen a TV program on Darby's sturgeon, recognized the fish and contacted the local Fishery Management.

The Institute of Yibin Rare Aquatic Animals later confirmed that the fish was wild Dabry's sturgeon.

Measuring 30 inches in length, the sturgeon weighed 7 pounds and was approximately 3 years old. It is believed that it was feeding along the riverside when it was washed ashore by waves caused by a passing steamboat.

Having existed on earth for nearly 150 million years, Dabry's sturgeon is unique to the Yangtze River. The largest one can weigh up to 88 pounds and measure over 5 feet long.

Nicknamed sturgeon, Yangtze sturgeon, locust fish, or Sa La Zhe, Dabry's sturgeon looks similar to the Chinese sturgeon. It is mainly found in the main streams of the Yangtze River and nearby lakes. It lays eggs in September and October in the area between Chongqing and Yibin, as well as upstream in the Jingsha River.

Just like pandas, Dabry's sturgeon is listed as a precious, but endangered species native to China.