Wild Things : Endangered Species of Fish
It's hard to find specific numbers on endangered fish in the world, but some include the Chinook salmon of the Pacific Northwest, the Steelhead Trout of California, the Thailand Giant Catfish and the Whale Shark.
Fish are one of the hardest animals to keep track of. They migrate from streams to rivers to the ocean and we're never quite sure where they are. This makes it hard for us to find out their population numbers and find a way to protect them when they become endangered. This is all too true for the five fish species Kidzworld has decided to profile.
Steelhead trout are found in some of the California rivers. Since the 1950s the Steelhead Trout population has declined by 90 percent. 23 Steelhead runs have been completely wiped out because logging or road construction, etc destroyed their breeding streams. The Steelhead's habitat is continually being overrun by humans, which will have to change if these fish are going to be sticking around for much longer.
Thailand Giant Catfish
The Thailand Giant Catfish was declared an endangered species on June 2, 1970. Found in Thailand's Mekong River, the Thailand Giant Catfish is the largest freshwater fish in the world, growing up to 10 ft (3 m) in length and weighing up to 660 lbs. (300 kg.) Since the construction of a hydroelectric dam on the Mekong in 1994, the Thailand Giant Catfish population has dropped from 256 to 96 fish.
The exact number of Whale Sharks found in the world is unknown, as it is hard to track these 40-ft (12 m) fish. It is known, however, that this naturally rare shark's population (due to slow breeding rates) has declined in the past ten years because of over-fishing. The Whale Shark's relative, the Great White Shark, is also considered an endangered species off the coast of California, but seems to be plentiful in other regions of the world.
In the past few years, the number of Chinook salmon leaving the rivers of the Pacific Northwest have dropped dramatically. Fewer than 5,000 fish were found in Idaho's Snake River in 1998. At one time, a 100 lb. (45 kg) Chinook was not an uncommon catch in the Pacific Northwest. The Chinook salmon played a significant role in Native American culture as well. Unfortunately, scientists are predicting that the Chinook salmon may very well be extinct by the year 2016.
Unless we drastically change our views about our aquatic counterparts, many species will soon be extinct. It's a lot easier for us to keep track of fish like the Chinook salmon or Steelhead trout because they come back to the same stream every year to spawn. But unless we stop destroying their habitat, it won't matter how easy it is to count them. Fish species such as the Whale Shark could very easily be on the verge of extinction before anyone even notices, so we have to be extra cautious of our activities in and near all bodies of water.