China's Yellow River, the sixth largest river in the world, crosses diverse landscapes before emptying in the Bohai Sea. Waters from the faraway Bayan Har and Kunlun Mountains, the Ordos desert and the Tibetan Plateau drain into the Yellow River, creating its silt-filled freshwaters. Construction of hydro-electric dams threaten many of the aquatic plants and animals that depend on the Yellow River, and pollution remains a threat as well.
The Endemic Species May Be Extinct
Only one endemic species may remain in the Yellow River, the Chinese paddlefish (Psephurus gladius). The endangered silvery-gray paddlefish can reach 23 feet and weigh close to half a ton. They're native to the Bohai Sea and swim upstream to spawn. They have pointed snouts similar to those of swordfish. The last sighting of Chinese paddlefish in the Yellow River was in 2003; they're feared extinct. Possible causes of extinction include pollution and the many dams built along the Yellow River, which limit the fish's ability to swim upstream to their spawning grounds.
Yellow River Catfish
One species of catfish living in the Yellow River is Silurus lanzhouensis, whose colors range from tan to gray with clear whiskers and fanlike fins. They reach up to 23 inches long, feeding along the bottom of the Yellow River. These catfish also have been seen in Mongolia. Their breeding habits remain unknown, and sightings are relatively rare.
Yellow River Carp (Henan)
Carp species are abundant in Asia, and the Yellow River hosts a few. Carp in the Yellow River include the common (Henan) carp and the scaleless carp. Henan carp are stocky, edible fish. Scaleless carp are longer, slender fish reaching 12 or more inches in length. Both carp are silvery-gray in color and found throughout the length of the Yellow River.
Northern Bronze Gudgeon
Another edible fish found in the Yellow River is the northern bronze gudgeon (Coreius septentrionalis). Also called the Gezi fish, the northern bronze gudgeon has long whiskers, a pointed snout, and yellow-gold scales that give the fish a bronze cast in the water. The gudgeon is considered a delicacy in China, often served steamed and stuffed with pickles or relish and heavily spiced with ginger.
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