HOUSTON (CBS Houston) – One of the biggest fresh-water fish species in the world is in danger of dying out, reports Live Science.
The arapaima can grow up to 10 feet long and weigh over 400 pounds. They are quickly disappearing from the Amazon River basin that has been their home, says a new study.
Researchers surveyed local fisherman and found the arapima is already extinct in some parts of the Amazon.
Commonly known as pirarucu, arapaima (Arapaima gigas) are the largest freshwater fish in South America.
They are unique among fish because they can breathe air, thanks to a primitive lung which works with their gill system.
They need the adaptation because of the low oxygen level waterways in which they live.
“Arapaima spawn on the edges of floodplain forests and come to the surface to breathe every 5 to 15 minutes, when they are easily located and harpooned by fishers using homemade canoes,” said Caroline Arantes, a doctoral student in wildlife and fisheries science at Texas A&M University in College Station, who helped conduct the study.