River Monsters Wiki

The Chinese Paddlefish (Psephurus gladius) is possibly the world's largest freshwater fish. However, like the huge Sturgeon they migrate between fresh and salt water.

Mighty Rivers[]

Mighty Rivers: The Yangtze[]

Jeremy Wade traveled to the Yangtze River in Mighty Rivers season 1 on the trail of several of the River's giants including the Chinese Sturgeon.

He met a professor who was one of the last men to see a living Chinese Paddlefish. He, as Jeremy put it, seemed haunted by this fish, and explained how beautiful it was in life, as he and Jeremy were only staring at a preserved specimen. He also stated that he seriously hoped that there are some left. Although there is hope for the Chinese Sturgeon, perhaps the Chinese Paddlefish are already gone. As Jeremy stated in his book, "A river without monsters is far scarier than a river with monsters, because the day the last monster dies is the day the river dies too, and when that happens we aren't far behind". This is why the disappearance of these monsters is incredibly disturbing to many. Some blame paddlefish's disappearance from overfishing and pollution, however biggest threat to sealed their fate is enormous dam, and unlike in USA, China failed to bred them in captivity or even attempt to collect its DNA, make this species permanently gone but might still be out there.


The Chinese paddlefish can grow to 7 meters (23 feet) in length and weigh over 1,000 pounds. It is similar in size to the other Yangtze giant, the Chinese sturgeon. Its relative, the North American Paddlefish, is vulnerable, not critically endangered like its Chinese counterpart, but still rare.

The Chinese Paddlefish is a critically endangered species, and reports suggest that their numbers have dropped after the building of major dams such as the Three Gorges Dam. Since then, only a handful have been seen alive, and many now believe they are extinct. Although they are a first-level protected animal in the People's Republic of China, in January 2007 a 500- pounder was illegally caught in a fishing net and although the fish was rescued by the authorities, it died shortly after. That was the last one seen alive. A 2006-2008 search for living specimens yielded no results. It was about to declared extinct in 2020 however it is still have critically endangered status in some sources.