The Chinese bahaba (Bahaba taipingensis) is a species of marine fish in the Sciaenidae family. It is a large fish, reaching lengths up to 2 metres (6 ft 7 in) and weights in excess of 100 kilograms (220 lb); it is found on the coast of China, from the Yangtze River estuary southwards to the Pearl River estuary, including the waters of Hong Kong and Macau. Its natural habitats are shallow seas, subtidal aquatic beds, rocky shores, and estuarine waters.
The Chinese bahaba is known only from the parts of China between the Yangtze River southwards to Hong Kong. It enters estuaries to spawn and may be present there seasonally in large numbers. These include the Yangtze River, the Min River and the Pearl River and around the coast of Zhoushan Island.
The Chinese bahaba is a bento-pelagic fish that feeds mostly on crustaceans such as shrimps and crabs.
The Chinese bahaba was first described by Albert William Herre in 1932 when it was new to Western science. Annual catches of fifty tonnes were taken in the 1930s but this had dwindled to 10 tonnes per year by the 1950s and 1960s by which time few large fish were caught.
The Chinese bahaba is threatened by massive overfishing that continues despite legal protection in the mainland China (but not in Hong Kong); it has been listed as critically endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. The fishing is prompted by the immense monetary value placed on the swim bladders of this fish for use in traditional Chinese medicine. In some markets, notably the Chinese markets, a good specimen swim bladder fetches more than its weight in gold. Degradation of its estuarine spawning habitats may also have contributed to its decline.
- Ng Wai Chuen & Cheung, W. (2006). "Bahaba taipingensis". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2011.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 19 May 2012.
- Wang, Y.; Hu, M.; Sadovy, Y.; Cheung, S. G.; Shin, P. K. S. (2009). "Threatened fishes of the world: Bahaba taipingensis Herre, 1932 (Sciaenidae)". Environmental Biology of Fishes 85 (4): 335–336. doi:10.1007/s10641-009-9507-2.
- Froese, Rainer and Pauly, Daniel, eds. (2011). "Bahaba taipingensis" in FishBase. April 2011 version.
- Sadovy, Y.; Cheung, W. L. (2003). "Near extinction of a highly fecund fish: the one that nearly got away". Fish and Fisheries 4: 86–99. doi:10.1046/j.1467-2979.2003.00104.x.
- Anglers let big cash bonanza get away Reuters April 25, 2008
- Downcast: Critically endangered bahaba caught and sold for $500,000 Scientific American February 16, 2010