How Scientists Are Bringing Back Sturgeons, Fish That Once Swam With Dinosaurs 
CA Source: discovermagazine 7/23/2021
How Scientists Are Bringing Back Sturgeons, Fish That Once Swam With Dinosaurs
Credit: Fungus Guy
For millions of years, an armored behemoth has navigated its long nose through North American waterways. The lake sturgeon, which can reach six feet long and live to be 150 years old, are thought to be the oldest fish species in the Great Lakes ecosystem.

“The times that I've been able to go out into the field and handle these fish, it is just amazing,” says Amy Welsh, a conservation geneticist at West Virginia University.
“They're like gentle giants. You'll bring them up and they're just super low key and laid back.”
The only reason Welsh is reaching out to hold sturgeon is because tribal bands, biologists and other conservationists are bringing the ancient
swimmers back to the rivers and lakes they used to inhabit — and the process is nearly as slow and long-lived as the fish themselves.

Researchers think that sturgeon first evolved about 200 million years ago, putting them alongside dinosaurs at a time when land began breaking into today’s continents. The group now contains 27 species, only one of which — the lake sturgeon — is native to the Great Lakes. And compared to how long lake sturgeon have lived in North America, the time it took white settlers to eliminate the fish from some waterways was remarkably fast. Commercial fishing, which took off in the Midwest in the early 1800s, saw sturgeon as massive nuisances that shredded nets meant to catch other fish. Boats eventually caught lake sturgeon strictly to stack the carcasses on beaches to burn. The perception flipped in the 1860s: Smoked sturgeon meat and the fish eggs, better known as caviar, became popular menu items. Fishers in the Great Lakes pursued the fish even more aggressively. From 1895 to 1905, the numbers in Lake Eerie fell 80 percent.

Lake Superior Sturgeon, Lake Continue...

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