1,000 prehistoric fish released into East Texas Lake

1,000 juvenile paddlefish now in Caddo Lake
1,000 juvenile paddlefish now in Caddo Lake
Published: Jun. 23, 2022 at 1:37 PM CDT|Updated: Jun. 23, 2022 at 10:15 PM CDT

CADDO LAKE, Texas (KLTV) - One thousand prehistoric fish now fill an East Texas lake after and effort was undertaken to learn what is being done to save this threatened fish.

“Oh my gosh! Today is a great day,” said Laura-Ashley Overdyke, the executive director of the Caddo Lake Institute. “We’re releasing over 1,000 prehistoric paddlefish back into Caddo Lake where they belong.”

Overdyke sayid paddlefish used to flourish in Caddo Lake up until the 1950s when a dam was built upstream, damaging the water flow needed for the fish to survive.

Now that the habitat has been restored, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, and Caddo Lake Institute have worked together to restore the population of the paddlefish to a healthy level.

“This fish is the oldest surviving species on our continent,” Overdyke says. “It’s 350 million years old, which makes it 50 million years older than the dinosaurs.”

There used to be six species of paddlefish on the planet, but this is the only one remaining. and it’s threatened in the state of Texas.

Tim Bister, the district fisheries biologist with the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department, said that the restocking of paddlefish combined with science-based decisions to release certain amounts of water from the dam creates a more natural habitat.

“It’s important to know how the ecosystem works together to support these paddlefish, but not just paddlefish - all other species of fish that require those specific flows in the river throughout the year,” Bister said.

Today’s restocking was part of a 10-year plan to restore the paddlefish’s population in Caddo Lake, which started in 2018. They plan to release 10,000 to 14,000 fish into the lake this year.

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