Lake Sturgeon

General Informatiom:

These "living fossils" of fish evolution once ranged widely throughout the Mississippi River, the Great Lakes and the Hudson River. Occasionally, the lake sturgeon's dark form can be discerned in reedy shallows or near river mouths. The glimpse is as rare as it is startling.

In the last century, this large, bony-plated animal, browsing along the bottom, was often regarded as a nuisance because it became entangled in and ripped commercial fishing nets. Only later did the sturgeon become prized for its meat, eggs (caviar) and oil. A gelatin from the inner lining of its air bladder was used to make isinglass--a substance used as a clarifying agent in jellies, glues and in the isinglass windows of carriages and early cars.

Unfortunately, the sturgeon was exceptionally vulnerable to overfishing, largely because of its slow reproductive cycle. The female requires more than 20 years to mature, and then it spawns only every four to six years during its 50-year lifespan.

Copyright, 1998, by the University of Wisconsin Sea Grant Institute
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