WHAT ARE STURGEON?
These gigantic, armored fish can grow over 11 feet (3.3 meters) tall and weigh over 1,000 lbs (453 kg. most of which is muscle), and live for up to 100 years. Made famous due to their eggs being the basis of caviar, this fish is like the rhino of the sea. Covered in bony plates from head to tail (no scales), they have toothless mouths and barbell whiskers much like a catfish. They use these to “feel” the ground for possible food. Beside their eggs, they’re also prized for their flesh and bladder.
WHERE DO STURGEON COME FROM?
They live in fresh and saltwater lakes and oceans in the northern hemisphere. However their primitive characteristics also make them one of the most endangered species on Earth. Until recently it was thought that their morphological characteristics (the form and structure of their organs, bones and appearance) have been unchanged for almost 250 million years. But an article out of the University of Michigan disproved this. They showed that these “living fossils” had in fact changed and adapted quite quickly in terms of size.
WHEN ARE STURGEON IN SEASON?
This fish will wait 15 years before it begins to spawn, and even then will only lay eggs infrequently at best (once every 5 years or so).
ARE STURGEON SAFE TO EAT?
As predators who are long lived and grow to large sizes, their flesh is relatively high in mercury. This means that the expensive eggs that they lay (caviar) also have the potential to be dangerously high in mercury. However because by weight and frequency the amount of caviar a normal person eats is minimal at best, mercury contamination isn’t a concern.
ARE STURGEON DANGEROUS?
Yes but not in the same way that other natural, aquatic predators are. While there are isolated incidences of fatal encounters, in general this fish only attacks when disturbed. But what could be more disturbing to a fish then harvesting its eggs? Sadly this is why many of the sturgeon that supply caviar die in the process.