Giant Sturgeon Fish

There are 27 living species of sturgeon and 8 extinct species in the Acipenseridae family, which is divided into four genera. The earliest fossilized sturgeons are from more than 200 million years ago. The sturgeon is so older than all animals and dinosaurs combined.

Inhabiting subarctic, temperate, and subtropical oceans, rivers, and lakes are sturgeon fish, which are unusual organisms. Sturgeon fish are in danger of going extinct even in the absence of its natural predators because people value their eggs as a delicacy.

Description of the Sturgeon

These fish, which come in a variety of species, all have huge, robust bodies with skin covered in several rows of bone plates. Rows of these “scutes,” or plates, cover their skin’s absence of scales. Their rostrum, or nose, sticks out sharply in an upward and outward direction.

The majority of species reach astonishing lengths. Some of them weigh over 3,000 pounds and reach lengths of 20 feet or more! According to researchers, these fish were easily able to reach those sizes several hundred years ago, but overfishing has significantly decreased both their numbers and lifespan.

Sturgeon Classification and Scientific Name

Sturgeons are ray-finned fish in the family Acipenseridae, which has about 28 extant species and six extinct ones, and the class Actinopterygii, order, and order Acipenseriformes. The genera Acipensar, Huso, Scaphirhynchus, and Pseudoscaphirhynchus all have living species.

Around 245 million to 208 million years ago, during the late Triassic period, acipenseriform fishes first occur in the fossil record. Beginning in the Upper Cretaceous, true sturgeons are first observed.

Interesting Facts About the Sturgeon

Human interaction poses a serious threat to this enormous fish. Find out below why this is the case and what makes these fish so special.

Ancient Animals – These fish are frequently referred to as “living fossils” by researchers. This is due to the fact that these fish have not undergone significant alteration during millions of years of evolution. The sturgeons swimming now resemble those swimming with the dinosaurs quite a bit!

Humans engage in extensive fishing for caviar. They commercialize their flesh in addition to using their eggs as caviar. The majority of species’ populations have drastically declined due to caviar consumption.

Sluggish Reproduction – These fish suffer from a very slow breeding process. A fish must wait between 15 and 20 years after hatching before it may start reproducing. This means that it takes a long time for the younger fish to reach reproductive age and restore the population after humans have killed all the adults.

Shrinking Size: One other effect of human strain on these animals is a reduction in their size. Fishermen have sought for the biggest persons for hundreds of years. The population size has decreased as a result of the removal of all the larger fish from the gene pool throughout time. Younger fish cannot grow to their maximum size due to overfishing.

Sturgeon Appearance

The bodies of these fish typically have long, spindly shapes. The sturgeon’s body is covered with five longitudinal rows of scutes, which are bony plates. The fish’s skin is scale-free and smooth. The upper lobe of its tail fin is longer than the bottom lobe, which makes it stand out.

On the bottom of their snouts, these fish have enormous, toothless mouths. The fish drags very sensitive barbels over the bottom before opening its mouth in order to find shells, insects, tiny fish, and other kinds of food.

These fish species often reach lengths of 7 to 10 feet. Although it is uncommon, certain species may grow to lengths of more than 25 feet. The world record-holding biggest sturgeon was a female beluga that was caught in Russia’s Volga Estuary in 1827. It weighed 3,463 pounds and was 24 feet long.

Sturgeons have syphon-like mouths and no teeth

Sturgeons are among of the largest fish in the world, yet they are bottom feeders, not predators. Sturgeons don’t actually have teeth to munch on their prey.

Instead, sturgeons stretch and expand their jaws in order to ingest food from the environment’s benthos. The base of a body of water is known as the benthos. Typically, tiny fish, shellfish, and crustaceans are consumed by sturgeons. A big white sturgeon may, however, consume a salmon fish whole.

Sturgeon fish have four barbels that resemble whiskers. Sturgeons have four long, thin barbels close to their lips. Similar to a cat’s whiskers, sturgeon have barbels.

The barbels give the sturgeon information about its surroundings. A sturgeon will swim close to the water’s surface while foraging by dragging its barbels across the sand. The fish will learn where the food is through the barbels. The vision of sturgeons is weak. Barbels, however, can feel food without being seen by sturgeons.

WHERE CAN YOU FISH STURGEON?

In search of trophy sturgeon? The biggest and greatest for sport fishers is the white sturgeon. The Lower and Mid Fraser Rivers, which are located west of Vancouver, Canada, include the largest of the huge.

The only type of fishing allowed here is catch and release. If you want to catch and consume a sturgeon, you should be aware that the majority of sturgeon species are listed as endangered.

However, there are several places across the world, including the Columbia River in Washington State (always check local rules), where you can capture and keep certain sturgeon of a specified size.

Where does a sturgeon live?

Rivers in Ukraine and southern Russia contain sturgeons. They are incredibly common in North American freshwaters. In the United States, it’s common to witness lake sturgeons swimming across Hudson Bay.

What does a Sturgeon Look Like?

Surprise, surprise, a sturgeon has a classic fish form! Its toothless, catfish-like nose with feelers is part of its armored skull. A sturgeon has a long, sleek body that is dark or grey, covered in bony plates (scutes), and a tail that resembles a shark. They might be as short as a few inches or as long as 23 feet.

Sturgeon in Fishing and Cooking

Many places allow fishing for these species, although tight rules are in place to avoid overfishing. Particularly lake sturgeon are well-liked sporting fish in North America.

These fish are appreciated mostly as food because of their meat and roe. The latter is used to produce what is thought to be the greatest caviar in the world, which for many years caused the fish to be severely overfished.

Flesh from sturgeons is frequently smoked, pickled, or prepared fresh. Isinglass, a pure form of gelatin found in the swim bladders of sturgeons, has long been sought for its many industrial applications.

How many sturgeon are there in the world?

 

The population of sturgeon in significant basins has decreased by 70% during the last century. In the previous 15 years, the number of sturgeons in their native environment has plummeted by a factor of 40. Sturgeon populations in the Caspian Sea have dropped from 200 million in 2000 to barely 60 million in 2008.

Sturgeon Species

Following are some prominent sturgeon species:

Common/Old World Sturgeon: This species, scientifically known as Acipensar sturio, averages 10 feet in length and 500 pounds in weight. Its range stretches from Scandinavia to the Mediterranean Sea.

A. stellatus, the Stellate/Star Sturgeon, has a long, pointed snout. It is coveted for its priceless caviar, meat, and isinglass and is found in the rivers of the Black Sea, Caspian Sea, and Sea of Azov.

Russian Sturgeon: A. guldenstadtii grows to an average weight of 500 pounds and a length of 10 feet in the rivers of Russia and Lake Baikal.

White Sturgeon – A. ruthensus is an important food fish that is mostly found in rivers that feed the Black and Caspian oceans. It grows to a length of around three feet on average.

Beluga Sturgeon: Huso huso, one of the largest sturgeons still living, may reach lengths of up to 26.2 feet and weights of up to 3.5 short tons. Rivers that flow into the Black Sea, Caspian Sea, and Sea of Azov make up its habitat. World records have been broken by this enormous fish.

A. fulvescens, the lake sturgeon, only inhabits freshwater environments. The Mississippi River basin, the Great Lakes, and significant West Coast rivers like the Klamath and Umpqua rivers all serve as its habitat. It grows to a weight of 200 pounds on average.

The specimen measuring 87.5 inches and weighing 240 pounds held the record for the biggest lake sturgeon in the world.

White/Sacramento/Oregon The biggest sturgeon in North America, A. transmontanus, or the enormous sturgeon, lives in the seas off the Pacific Coast of North America and may grow to weigh up to 1,800 pounds.

Chinese Sturgeon: Of all the sturgeon species, A. sinensis is one of the most endangered and may even be extinct. It is indigenous to China’s Yangtze River watershed and reaches average lengths of 13 feet.

What is a sturgeon’s habitat?

Sturgeon populations often feed at the bottom of rivers and estuaries, spawning upstream in the spring and summer. Although their normal habitat is freshwater, they can occasionally be discovered living along coasts or venturing out into the ocean.

Sturgeon populations are often found in lakes, rivers, and coasts in temperate, subarctic, and subtropical regions of North America and Eurasia.

Sturgeon Predators and Prey

Was Consumes Sturgeon? These fish have few predators because of their size. Sharks occasionally hunt on them, and lampreys are known to parasitize them, occasionally resulting in significant injury or death.

What Do Sturgeons Consume? These fish are bottom feeders and mostly eat tiny fish, crabs, insects, and shells. Some bigger species are able to swallow a whole salmon whole and may eat larger fish.

Sturgeon fish have not evolved much in the last 200 million years

Modern-day sturgeon fish are not all that dissimilar from those that existed in the Late Triassic Period. A species remaining the same for such a long time is extremely uncommon.

But it demonstrates that sturgeons have consistently adapted naturally well to their surroundings. For comparison, the oldest known ancestors of humans only emerged about 5-7 million years ago.

How do they reproduce?

Sturgeons take a while to become sexually mature. Some female sturgeon reach sexual maturity at the age of 30 and begin to lay eggs at that age or older in the wild. Reproduction does not occur annually.

About three years elapse between spawnings on average. In their native aquatic habitat, sturgeons typically spawn at a depth of 5.4 to 6.0 meters. When sturgeon are raised in freshwater or move to freshwater rivers, all sturgeon populations develop spawning properly.

Sturgeon Reproduction and Lifespan

These fish have a lifespan of 50 to 60 years on average, with many living for 100 years or beyond.

They reproduce by external fertilization since they are spread spawners. Females produce between 100,000 to 3 million eggs every cycle, although not all of them are fertilized.

The eggs eventually turn sticky and attach to substrates near the bottom. Larval fish migrate into backwater regions by swimming downstream with river currents after eight to fifteen days of gestation. Small fish eventually return to large rivers. Many species move up rivers to spawn, which is known as anadromous behavior.

Sturgeon fish have either 120, 240, or 360 chromosomes

During evolution, the genome of the sturgeon was duplicated. Gene copying is the process of genome duplication. As a result, the three sturgeon species that are still alive may be classified according to how many chromosomes they have.

Species contain 120, 240, or 360 chromosomes, respectively. There are 240 chromosomes in the white sturgeon. These chromosomal changes are referred to as polyploidy in species. In plants, this happens considerably more frequently.

What is their conservation status?

According to the IUCN, sturgeon populations are in need of conservation assistance. The sturgeon species has been classified as severely endangered for more than half of its population.

The Chinese sturgeon is the most endangered of all, with a nearly 98 percent reduction in its population between 1973 and 2010. Due to the demand for their eggs, which are sold as caviar, swim bladder, and meat, sturgeons are overfished.

Limits

Numerous locations face threats to the populations of this rare fish. They develop quite slowly, taking at least 11 years to reach maturity, and even then, they may only reproduce every 2 to 8 years. When determining the sturgeon limit, keep these things in mind.

Fishing regulations for sturgeon are strictly enforced, with catch-and-release being the norm. However, until quotas are met, just 2 can be maintained annually in Oregon above Bonneville Dam. It’s also possible to hook a green sturgeon close to the mouth of the Columbia River, but you must release this uncommon fish right away.

Always make sure you have your license and verify the current regulations for any recent updates or extra requirements before attempting to catch Columbia River sturgeon. For instance, a separate Columbia River Basin Endorsement is required for anybody fishing for sturgeon in Oregon using the catch-and-release method.