An arapaima at the National Zoo (Credit: Jeff Kubina, via Flickr)
The Amazon River’s largest species of fish is edging toward extinction, according to The Washington Post. The fish, known as arapaima, are threatened by overfishing and a general lack of oversight for fishermen on the river.
Researchers at Virginia Tech led a study finding that the fish are already extinct in 19 percent of 81 areas surveyed along the river. They also note increasing scarcity has not impacted demand for the fish because they are still being depleted.
Arapaima are different from most fish because they can breathe oxygen through lungs, in addition to gills. It is thought that this ability could make them more vulnerable to fishermen who capture them when they surface for air.
Full results of the study are published in the journal Aquatic Conservation: Marine and Freshwater Ecosystems.
Image: An arapaima at the National Zoo (Credit: Jeff Kubina, via Flickr)