Are you familiar with the fascinating history of the Lake Sturgeons? Many of us hear about the mighty lake sturgeon, but few have actually seen them, so let’s discuss the history of this fish in today’s blog. These ancient fish are actually the oldest and largest species to inhabit the great lakes.
These massive fish are very recognizable with their dinosaur-like appearance and armored body. However, they are completely harmless, feeding on the bottom and consuming mostly crayfish, snails and clams. These astonishing fish can get up to 6.5 feet long and live up to 150 years!
Sadly, since the 1800s, sturgeon populations in the great lakes have drastically decreased due to exploitation. Fishermen originally considered the fish a nuisance species because they were very abundant and often broke their nets. This then prompted the start of overfishing efforts to rid the great lakes of the “pest” fish. Fishermen caught many sturgeon, often piling them up and leaving them to rot or using their oily carcasses as fuel. Once human populations gained a taste for the caviar the fish produced, prices and therefore exploitation jumped. After years of overfishing, human impacts on their habitat and warming water due to climate change, lake sturgeon were becoming increasingly rare. Canada and the United States are now working together to create conservation strategies, as the sturgeon is now listed as a threatened species.
History of Lake Sturgeons: Now What?
Rehabilitation plans made all commercial and most recreational catching of sturgeon illegal. There is an action plan which involves the tracking and tagging of sturgeon to study population numbers. The development of sea lamprey control efforts is also a key point in the protection of lake sturgeon. We are currently making efforts to stock sturgeon in some rivers on the United States side, so the future of the lake sturgeon is bright if we keep up with current management plans. These efforts now make part of the history of the Lake Sturgeons