The first baby sturgeon spotted in the Yangtze estuary this year.
The first juvenile Chinese sturgeon of this year was observed on Monday, Shanghai Yangtze River Estuary's Chinese Sturgeon Nature Conservation Area office said yesterday.
Researchers were unable to find any sign of juvenile sturgeon last year.
Chinese sturgeon, or Acipenser sinensis, is a critically endangered species that is restricted locally to the main channel of the Yangtze River for spawning. As the fish gets older, it swims to the ocean through the Yangtze estuary.
The juvenile Chinese sturgeon found this year weighed about nine grams and was 130 millimeters in length.
“Yangtze River's estuary is like a kindergarten for Chinese sturgeons, to prepare for them transferring from fresh water to the sea,” a researcher surnamed Zheng with the conservation area's office told Shanghai Daily. “Their size will also grow bigger to nearly 500 centimeters during the period.”
However, the number of observed Chinese sturgeon juveniles has declined sharply since 2010. In 2014 and 2016, researchers found no sign of any Chinese sturgeon juveniles.
“Such inconsistency in the observation is a dangerous sign for the species,” Zheng said. “But as we are still able to find a new juvenile this year, it means there's still hope. With the improvement of Yangtze River's ecological environment, the species still have chances to thrive again.”
The conservation area said it would strengthen observation and monitoring on the endangered species and promote education among local fishermen and conduct emergency rescue if wounded Chinese sturgeons were spotted.