Captive bred Chinese sturgeon could help save species

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A group of five captive bred Chinese sturgeon, (Acipenser sinensis) have been successfully released by the Chinese Sturgeon Research Institute (CSRI) into the Yangtze river in a new attempt to rescue the species from potential extinction.

The event is considered groundbreaking as the fish were second generation captive bred fish meaning that wild caught specimens are no longer required for the breeding program.

The first five fish will serve as a pilot scheme for further releases and the fish will be tracked by microchip to help gather information on their preferred habitat.

The Chinese sturgeon is one of China’s most vulnerable species and is listed as "critically endangered" on the IUCN red list of threatened species despite the release of millions of young by the CSRI since the early 1980s.

 

The decline in numbers is thought to be largely caused by pollution, disruption caused by shipping and the building of the Gezhouba dam in 1981 which blocked migration routes to its spawning grounds.

Sturgeons are thought to belong to an transitional group of fish between cartilaginous and bony fish and have remained largely unchanged since the time of the dinosaurs. They are some of the largest fish in the world with some species reaching over 5m in length and weighing around 2000kg.