Life Like Pet Portraits & Animal Art by Artist - Annie Feist


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Paddlefish Memorabilia
Paddlefish information

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Paddlefish T-Shirt
Paddlefish T-Shirt
Paddlefish T-Shirt
Label is printed, not sewn in, for ultimate comfort. 99% cotton, 1% other short-sleeve t-shirt.  Shoulder to shoulder taping with cover stitched collar. Double-needle stitched armholes, sleeves and bottom hem.
One color - Ash.
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Paddlefish Cap
Paddlefish Cap
Paddlefish Cap
Adult-size solid-color cotton hat with pre-curved visor features your embroidered logo on the front. Lightweight bio-washed Chino twill is sturdy, but extremely comfortable and fashionable. The six-panel cap’s unstructured, low-profile design offers a relaxed look and feel. Six sewn eyelets allow air flow so head can breathe. Cloth strap with tri-glide buckle closure makes adjustments simple.
One color - Gray
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 Paddlefish 14 oz Thermal MugPaddlefish 14 oz Thermal Mug
Paddlefish 14 oz Thermal Mug
This 14 oz. mug features a four-finger, comfort grip handle and a durable polypropylene plastic construction. Insulated liner helps maintain beverage temperatures. Spill-resistant, two-piece lid with thumb-slide opener. Fits most vehicle cup holders.
One color - White


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Original oil painting of a paddlefish on Brazilian agate
Hand Painted Paddlefish on Agate
Original hand painted paddlefish in oil on Brazilian agate, protected with a 2 part polymer finish. Size is approximately 5" wide x 2.5" high. Agate color varies.

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Paddlefish Information

• Paddlefish have several nicknames including: spoonbill catfish, spoonbill sturgeon, or shovelnose catfish.

• These names come from the paddlefish’s identifying feature – its long, flat rostrum. The rostrum is a blade- or spoon-like snout that kind of looks like a kitchen spatula.

• The paddlefish has what's called a cartilaginous skeleton. There are no bones in the body except for its jawbone. The rest of the semi-hard places in the body are made of cartilage - like our noses and ears.

• There are no scales on a paddlefish’s body; it’s covered with a smooth, tough skin.

• They can be up to 87 inches long (that’s about 7 feet 3 inches) and weigh as much as 200 pounds, but the average paddlefish weighs about 15-20 pounds.

• Paddlefish are also known as “freshwater whales” because they filter feed like most whales. They swim near the surface of the water, open their mouths wide, and use their gill rakers to filter out tiny plankton (microscopic plant and animal life).

• The bottom of the rostrum is covered with sense receptors kind of like taste buds and help the paddlefish find places where plankton are most abundant.

• Because they must swim through debris to filter out their food, they have small eyes and long gill covers that come to a point to protect their lungs from the sediments stirred up in the waters.

• Coming to the top mostly just to feed, they live mostly in slow-moving river waters that are more than four feet deep.

• Paddlefish have even outlived the dinosaurs. Paddlefish like we know them now have been around for 300 million years and are the oldest surviving animal species in North America.

• They were first discovered in America in the 1500s by the Mississippi River explorer Hernando De Soto.

• The American paddlefish has only one other relative in the world, another paddlefish that lives in China and can grow to over 20 feet long!

• Paddlefish are threatened in some states, so they cannot be fished for in the state of Wisconsin and any other in which they are protected. Some states still do allow fishing for paddlefish, but have very strict laws to keep their numbers up.

• Paddlefish are prized for their roe, which is made into caviar. Most of the Sturgeon Roe Caviar sold in the US is actually paddlefish roe.

•The paddlefish's scientific name is polydon spathula. Polydon is Greek for"many teeth" and refers to the gill rakers, even though paddlefish have no teeth at all. The word spathula is Latin for "spatula" or "blade."

Also known as:
American paddlefish, duckbill cat, spadefish, spoonbill cat and Mississippi paddlefish

Previously known as:
Squalus spathula

Kingdom Animalia
Phylum Chordata
Class Actinopterygii
Order Acipenseriformes
Family Polyodontidae
Genus Polyodon (1)
Size Length: up to 221 cm (2)
Weight up to 90.7 kg (2)

Classified as Vulnerable (VU A3de) on the IUCN Red List 2004
(1) and listed on Appendix II of CITES (3).

The paddlefish has a highly distinctive appearance, so named for its peculiar, elongate, paddle-shaped snout, which may act as a sensory organ or help to channel plankton into the mouth (2) (4). The paddlefish's genus name, Polydon, derives from a Greek word meaning ‘many tooth', referring to their hundreds of gill rakers, specially adapted to their method of filter-feeding plankton (5). This large fish is grey to blue-black, paler underneath, lacks scales, and has a deeply forked, shark-like tail (5) (6). Males are generally larger than females (7).

Currently found in 22 U.S. states that are part of the Mississippi River basin
(7), including the Missouri River into Montana, the Ohio River, and their major tributaries (2).

A freshwater fish (although capable of surviving in brackish water) that generally inhabits slow-flowing water of large rivers, usually at depths greater than 1.3 m (2) (7). Access to areas with sand or gravel bars is required during migratory breeding events (7).

The paddlefish is one of the few freshwater fish to feed by straining plankton from the water, which it does by sweeping through the water with its lower jaw dropped and the sides of the head inflated
(4), allowing it to filter feed and ventilate its gills simultaneously (7). The large snout is covered with electro receptors used to gather information about the surrounding environment, including locating prey (7). The peak breeding season occurs in spring, during which large shoals of paddlefish migrate upstream and congregate in specific breeding areas to spawn. Spawning appears to require very specific environmental requirements and therefore generally only occurs every two to three years based on environmental stimuli (7). Single females can lay a huge number of eggs, from 300,000 to 600,000 (8), after which no parental care is invested and many will die (7). Males attain sexual maturity in around seven years, females in nine to ten (9). These relatively long-lived fish may live up to 55 years, although the average lifespan seems to be around 20 to 30 years (7).

The paddlefish has suffered heavily from legal and illegal harvesting in the past, due to its valuable meat and eggs, which are sold as caviar. However, the species is now threatened more by habitat destruction and river modification as a result of dams throughout the Mississippi River basin
(7). Dams have helped eliminate traditional spawning sites, interrupt natural spawning migrations (9), and separate paddlefish populations, which limits gene flow and therefore genetic variability (7). Additionally, agricultural development along much of the Missouri, Ohio, and Mississippi rivers and their tributaries has increased soil erosion, and the fertilizer and pesticides used run off into these rivers. These problems are combined with severe industrial pollution and municipal waste in a number of areas across the fish's range. Although much of the caviar and meat produced now comes from farmed paddlefish, commercial harvest was still permitted in six states as of 1997, and sport harvest in 14 states (9).

The historical decline of paddlefish has led to greater regulations on paddlefish harvesting
(7). The Mississippi Interstate Cooperative Resource Association (MICRA) was set up in 1991 to address the fishery management issues in the Mississippi River Basin, with several states actively participating in the five year MICRA paddlefish project by stocking rivers with this species (1). Indeed, over a million hatchery-reared juveniles have been tagged and released since 1994, helping to bolster current numbers and to provide valuable data (9). The results of tag monitoring and harvesting reports indicate that the total population of paddlefish exceeds 10,000 individuals and can sustain current harvesting levels (1).

Further Information
For more information on the paddlefish see:
NatureServe Explorer: spathula

A biological ability to sense electrical impulses and fields through a series of electroreceptor sensory organs, often found in sharks, skates and rays.
Gill rakers: A series of bony, comb-like projections located along the front edge of the gill arch.




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For information about this website or any of its artwork contact:

Annie Feist
95 FAS 254 
Glendive, Montana 59330
406.687.3701 -

© Annie Feis
t 1997- 200