Species Spotlight: Pallid Sturgeon

Did you know that the endangered pallid sturgeon is one of the oldest fish in North America?

Published January 26, 2018

Residing mainly in North America, pallid sturgeons can be found in the Mississippi and Missouri River basins. Pallid sturgeons are among the oldest fish in North America, having originated approximately 70 million years ago! They can also live to be up to 100 years old. 

pallid-sturgeon
Not only are pallid sturgeons among the oldest fishes in North America, they’re also among the largest. They can grow to be up to 60 inches long and weigh up to 80 pounds. Pallid sturgeons are defined by their grayish-white color, uneven tail fins, lack of scales or bones, long snouts and lack of teeth.  

Missing teeth and poor eyesight means that pallid sturgeons have to adapt to be able to eat food.  You may ask, how can pallid sturgeons eat with no teeth? Well, they suck up fish, mollusks and insects through their mouths, which are shaped like tubes, from the river floor. No chewing necessary!

Although they have been around for approximately 70 million years, pallid sturgeons are listed as an endangered species by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Loss of habitat is the main reason for this decline in population. Researchers are currently using radio transmitters to track pallid sturgeons’ movements and help identify spawning areas, which will help these ancient fish survive in the wild.  

Before pallid sturgeons were listed as endangered, they were considered popular catches among fisherman. Now, all pallid sturgeon caught must be released back into the wild to preserve the species.  

Stay tuned for more behind-the-scenes updates!

 
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