This unique-shaped fish is named for its long, paddle-shaped snout. My grandfather once caught a paddlefish that was 2 meters (6.5 ft) long and weighed 72 kilograms (160 lb). Despite its large size, the paddlefish is a filter feeder, eating tiny animals strained from the water with its gills.
The fish's "paddle" is covered with tiny sensory organs that help it find food. The paddle also balances the fish, helping it swim with its mouth open.
The paddlefish is an ancient species. It has only one other living relative, an even larger fish found in China. Paddlefish have tasty flesh, and their eggs are prized for caviar. Overfishing, dams, and other changes have caused paddlefish numbers to decrease in many rivers where it was once common.