American Paddlefish now only surviving species

While news of the extinction of another species is always sad, there is a positive side to the story here in the Deep South – With the announcement that the Chinese Paddlefish is now extinct, the American Paddlefish, is now the only remaining species out of 6 previously existing   The Paddlefish is North America‚Äôs oldest living species, 50 million years older than the dinosaurs.   Though they are alive and well in many U.S. rivers, they had been extirpated from Caddo Lake/Big Cypress Bayou (on the border of Louisiana and Texas.) (rights free package.)  Historic agreements with the Corps of Engineers and a broad coalition of supporters is restocking them.  

The U.S. Fish Wildlife Service, along with Texas Parks and Wildlife and Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, embarked on a 10 year full-scale restocking of Paddlefish back into Caddo Lake in 2018.   This is only possible because habitat has been restored through an historic agreement that balances the needs of industry and municipalities with the environment.  

In 2005, the Caddo Lake Institute, with many key nonprofit and government partners, began working on a flows regime that would help restore habitat and fisheries in Big Cypress Bayou/Caddo Lake.  One key native species, the Paddlefish, had disappeared from Caddo after loss of springtime pulses indicating it was time to spawn, and lack of rocky bottoms on which to lay their eggs.  The flows project remedied those issues, providing springtime pulses and sediment scouring.  The USACE placed gravel spawning shoals in Big Cypress Bayou which remain clear of sediment.  Experimental releases of paddlefish begun in 2014, were successful and in 2018 a full scale restocking of Paddlefish was begun and will continue until a viable population can be established.  These fish are 350 million years old, older than the dinosaurs, are filter feeders, have no scales and essentially no bones.  They are listed as threatened in the state of Texas and are not game fish.  Game fish restocking occurs regularly in Caddo.