Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Beluga Sturgeon

Huso huso
The Beluga Sturgeon is the largest of all the Sturgeon species, and is also one of the largest freshwater fish in the entire world (though they can also be found in brackish and saltwater areas). Some of the largest ones caught were close to 20ft long, though most observed around in the 6-10ft range.

Beluga Sturgeons grow very slowly, meaning that the largest of them are also the oldest. They can live over 100 years, and the oldest recorded was 118!

You'll find these predatory fish in the Black Sea, the Caspian Sea, the Volga River, and occasionally in the Adriatic Sea as well. They live at sea most of their lives, but swim up rivers in order to spawn. When the time to reproduce arrives, a single female can lay up to 3.5 million eggs!

Unfortunately, those eggs are the reason why these giant fish are listed as Critically Endangered  You see, Beluga Sturgeons are where Beluga Caviar comes from. That Caviar is the most expensive in the world, and close to 50% of it is illegally traded. The Sturgeon are over-fished, and on top of that, their habitats are degrading. They are protected by CITES and a few other agreements, and the importation of the caviar is now banned in the United States.

IUCN Status : Critically Endangered
Location : Eastern Europe
Size : Length up to 10ft (3.2m)
Classification : Phylum : Chordata -- Class : Actinopterygii -- Order : Acipenseriformes
Family : Acipenseridae -- Genus : Huso -- Species : H. huso
Image : 1stfun

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