STURGEON FACT SHEET
Scientific Name: Acipenser fulvescens
believe these ancient fish appeared more than 100 million years
ago. It is thought that the sturgeon first appeared in the upper
Cretaceous period of the Mesozoic Era, at about the same time
that the dinosaurs disappeared. Their survival rate has been
attributed to their large size and large egg production.
lake sturgeon live in large freshwater rivers and lakes in the
United States and Canada.
lake sturgeon species is rare and nearing extinction in the
Coosa, Missouri, Ohio and middle Mississippi drainages.
dams and pollution have combined to drastically reduce the lake
sturgeon population worldwide. § Sturgeon are exceptionally
vulnerable to overfishing, largely due to its slow reproductive
sturgeon require 15-20 years or more to mature. They spawn only
every 4-6 years during its 50-100 year life span. Females are
known to outlive the males.
sturgeon normally leave lakes in the spawning migration not
long after the spawning rivers are free of ice. They have even
been known to move under the ice.
of the largest lake sturgeon recorded weighed 310 pounds and
was 2.441 meters long.
are primarily bottom dwellers, and feed on worms, insect larvae,
snails, clams, some fish and fish eggs, bits of aquatic plants
and other litter from the floor of a lake or stream.
sturgeon can weigh anywhere from 10-80 lbs. Some may grow to
weigh several hundred pounds.
1947, a 225 pound sturgeon was found dead on the shores of Rush
Lake in Minnesota.
sturgeon's meat sells more per pound than any of our other freshwater
species. Their flesh is firm, white, rich, and popular when
smoked. Another expensive product of the sturgeon is their eggs,
known as caviar.
Caviar consumption is on the rise. . . .
the 19th Century, the United States lead the world in the production
of caviar; 60,000 pounds a year was from Lake Michigan alone.
Caspian Sea, the world's largest lake, is more than 374,000
square kilometers and 80 percent to 90 percent of the world's
sturgeon make their home in this lake. Dwelling in the lake
has put sturgeon in danger of extinction due to high international
demand for caviar.
unripe or green eggs used for caviar are usually removed from
the female by opening her abdominal cavity.
isinglass was once extracted from the sturgeon's swim bladder.
Isinglass was used as a clarifying agent in the making of wine
and beer, as a cement for pottery, to set jams and jellies and
for waterproofing. Such intense fishery for the lake sturgeon
species has reduced populations to a level from which they have
number of adult sturgeon living in the Caspian Sea has declined
70 percent from 142 million in 1978 to 43.5 million in 1994.
percent of sturgeon killed contain no eggs because they are
unfertilized mature females. More scientific ways of extracting
the eggs without killing the sturgeon have been developed but
are not implemented when the fish are caught illegally.
Russian news reported that up to 90 percent of the catch from
the Caspian is poached.
are not enough lake sturgeons being left to reproduce and maintain
the higher demand for caviar has put the sturgeon in grave danger.
methods are being implemented to successfully produce caviar
without harming the fish population. Farming of sturgeon in
North America is a new way that the wild sturgeon can go unaffected
by the world's ever-present caviar demands. Such methods are
encouraged and increasing.
all sturgeon are included in the Convention on International
Trade in Endangered Species appendices beginning April 1, 1998.
The CITES are responsible for providing regulations regarding
import and export of the sturgeon caviar. This will limit the
further endangerment of the species by removing them from international