The Atlantic Sturgeon. I picked this one because I love this fish. I think it is strikingly beautiful.
About them: Atlantic Sturgeon are huge fish once in maturity. They can weigh up to 800 lbs and be as long as 14 feet in length. They are long lived fish, up to 60 years. They do not have scales but scutes which, are 5 rows of bony plates, two rows run along their belly, a row on each side and one along their back. They have a shark like tail, with the top lobe larger than the bottom. They are bottom feeders so they have a snout for rooting in the muck and 4 sensory barbels in front of their mouth.
This is a very old fish. It has been on our earth for millions of years and survived past mass extinctions. Now, humans are making their survival much more complicated.
Historical Data: Sturgeon used to provide a booming business to fishermen, through the adult fish meat and mostly through their caviar. The abundance of food they produced was staggering but, they were horrifically overfished and over a few decades their populations plummeted. Now, this happened in those years of plenty when people of the US were just grasping their impact on species, the late 1800’s and early 1900’s. This is when the US first started putting limits on hunting and fishing. Unfortunately the damage had been done and given that this species has such a long maturity time and 3-5 years between spawning the recovery has been a struggle.
What we should consider: Along with low populations the environments where these fish spawn and live has changed. These are fish that travel up rivers from the ocean to lay eggs. They need just enough river debris for their eggs to attach and enough dissolved oxygen in the water for the eggs, then baby fish to survive. With so much agricultural run off and other pollutants entering the river ways these circumstances are not always present. The other trouble is dredgers and other large boats using the water ways take up enough space in the river as they travel that the adult fish is boxed into contact with the dangerous prop of the boat. Other human activities that accidentally kill this fish are, lost fishing nets and water turbines which suck up water from rivers for other uses.
What is being done: When the ESA put the 5 populations of Atlantic Sturgeon on the Endangered Species list 2012, it really helped with the funding of needed research and the establishment of protections for this fish along their historical breeding habitats. Since that happened Sturgeon are being seen in their historic sites once again. Although, they are not yet seeing consistent successful breeding, meaning finding young in the rivers.
How to help: Continue bringing awareness. Call into state senators when legislation is being passed that could affect the continued support of policy that protects wildlife and waterways. Support locally, new legislation means the ESA will need to work more closely with states and even rely more on state funding to continue protections.
Individual support can be:
- donating to science groups
- helping to ensure funding to the organizations that creating breeding programs
- being a citizen scientist through
- land restoration project
- trash clean ups
- species counts
- bio blitzes
- getting people you know excited about how incredible our planet’s biodiversity is.
Joining your local Audubon Society is a great first step into finding activities and ways to become a citizen scientist and environmental advocate.
Further Reading, my sources:
[This is a blog of my opinions. I speak for myself. I am a one person team and if I have misinterpreted a fact or made an error please feel free to get in touch to correct me. I will make edits and updates to post. I would appreciate corrections to be polite. I will not engage in hate.]