Finding no eggs in the familiar places, Chinese researchers fear the worst for the country’s wild sturgeon species.

The Chinese Xinhua News agency reports that China’s wild sturgeons could be on the verge of extinction.

According to its new report, wild sturgeons typically lay eggs between the dates of October 31 and December 28 in the Hubei Province near the Gezhou Dam, with many wild sturgeons laying eggs from mid-November to the end of the month. Researchers found no eggs in the Hubei Province near the Gezhou Dam, as they’ve found from year to year.

Since wild sturgeons typically lay eggs in November, they usually start swimming around three months before reaching their destination near the Gezhou Dam where they lay eggs after reaching maturity. No wild sturgeons were detected swimming in August when researchers believed they would find them.

Chinese Academy of Fishery Sciences chief investigator Wei Qiwei has said that “It is the first time that we found no natural reproduction of the endangered sturgeons since records began 32 years ago when a dam was built.”

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Wild sturgeons, like other animals, are declared healthy and thriving based on the number of eggs they lay – which ensures that the sturgeon species will continue to thrive. With few eggs discovered in the usual water body locations, the sturgeon are on the verge of extinction and could die off soon.

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Chinese reports say that wild sturgeons, known as “aquatic pandas,” were numbered by the thousands in the 1980s, but are currently down to 100 or so now. The earliest known existence of the wild sturgeon dates back to 140 million years ago around the time when dinosaurs were said to have roamed the earth.

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