Paddlefish

paddlefish, credit: Lynn Chan CC BY-NC 2.0

fish_icon_3Extirpated Provincially and Nationally

Description

• One of the largest freshwater fish in North America and one of the most prehistoric fishes in Ontario, with records dating back 70-75 million years
• Thick, robust filter feeder with a long, paddle-like snout, and scale-less skin
• Closely related to sturgeons and sharks with skeleton that is mostly cartilage rather than bone
• Can live up to 30 years, reaching up to two metres or more in length and 68 kilograms in weight
• Lives in slow-moving sections of large rivers and lakes; migrates to fast flowing rivers with gravel bottoms to spawn

Range

• Still found in the Mississippi River drainage system, from Montana to Louisiana
• Once inhabited inshore areas of Great Lakes and large tributary rivers
• Not seen in Canada for the last 70 years
• Last specimen captured in Ontario in 1917

Threats

• Habitat loss and degradation (dams, dredging)
• Industrial pollution
• Overfishing

Protection

• Provincially protected under the Endangered Species Act, 2007
• Federally protected under the Species at Risk Act, 2002

Fact

The last captured specimen in Ontario was in 1917.

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