National American Paddlefish Day is observed on March 9 every year. The American paddlefish, a prehistoric freshwater fish, faces the threat of endangerment due to human activities. Paddlefish have been illicitly hunted for their eggs and flesh for many years and have become a vulnerable species. In 2019, the Chinese paddlefish was declared extinct, leaving the American paddlefish as the world’s only remaining species. To educate people on the danger faced by paddlefish and protect their population and current habitats, the Shreveport Aquarium founded National American Paddlefish Day.
History of National American Paddlefish Day
The American paddlefish is a 125-million-year-old prehistoric species of freshwater fish. They existed much before the dinosaurs and have occupied the Mississippi Valley and its watershed for 65 million years. The paddlefish has come to have many names. The Mississippi paddlefish, Spoonbill, and Spoonbill cat are among the various titles. The unique fish species has a long paddle-shaped nose, called a Rostrum, which distinguishes it from other American freshwater fish.
Towards the middle of the 1900s, American Paddlefish populations and habitats hit a sharp decline. The construction of modern dams and overfishing were driving the species towards endangerment. Fishers poached the fish for their eggs (roe), a caviar delicacy in restaurants.
Many efforts have been made to protect the prehistoric paddlefish. In 1914, Louisiana stepped up as the first state to protect the threatened species amidst the high demands for cajun caviar by banning the commercial trade of roe in Louisiana. By 2006, the world trade in wild caviar was banned when nine major caviar-producing countries failed to prove to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) that their wild fish were not at risk of endangerment. The Shreveport Aquarium established National American Paddlefish Day in 2019 to raise awareness about the American paddlefish’s plight. The Shreveport Aquarium rear the threatened species in the hope that they can once more repopulate Caddo Lake.
The paddlefish, once found in almost every river in the Central and Eastern U.S. and Canada, can now only be found in the Mississippi and Missouri River tributaries and Mobile Bay drainage basin. A festival is held each year in March known as the Paddlefish Festival. People celebrate it every year to protect the endangered paddlefish population.
National American Paddlefish Day timeline
An aquatic fish species, the paddlefish, lives on Earth.
American paddlefish face endangerment due to the building of modern dams and overfishing.
The World Wild Caviar Trade closes to protect endangered wild fish species.
The Shreveport Aquarium creates National American Paddlefish Day.
National American Paddlefish Day FAQs
Are paddlefish extinct?
Paddlefish are not extinct; however, they are in danger of becoming extinct.
Are spoonbill and paddlefish the same?
Spoonbill and paddlefish refer to the same long-snouted freshwater fish.
Is the Chinese paddlefish extinct?
The Chinese paddlefish has been declared extinct.
How to Observe National American Paddlefish Day
Attend the paddlefish festival
Take part in the paddlefish festival at the Shreveport Aquarium. There are fun educational events for everyone. You can see the paddlefish before they get transported to Caddo Lake.
Visit a public aquarium
Visiting a public aquarium is another good way to observe the holiday. You can broaden your knowledge of aquatic life and see these fish yourself.
Create awareness on social media
Sharing awareness-raising messages on social media may help save the paddlefish's existence. Please spread the word about the plight of these fish and ask your friends to join the fight to keep them alive.
5 Interesting Facts About The American Paddlefish
They feed on zooplankton
Paddlefish are carnivores and feed on tiny zooplankton.
They lay a lot of eggs
The average litter range of a female paddlefish is between 70,000 to 300,000 eggs.
Gray or green
The American paddlefish is usually gray or green in color.
In the vulnerable species category
They are currently considered vulnerable species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (I.U.C.N.)
Paddlefish can only be found in freshwater habitats.
Why National American Paddlefish Day is Important
Protect endangered fish
The prehistoric paddlefish faces the threat of extinction. We must unite our voices to call for their safety and the protection of their habitats.
It discourages illegal trade
By not patronizing the illegal roe trade, we discourage poachers. By diminishing the roe market, we can help stop poaching and overfishing.
It encourages others
People are frequently motivated to join the movement to protect paddlefish. With National Paddlefish Day being an annual event, the motivation comes yearly.
National American Paddlefish Day dates