How long do they live? Typically males live around 55 years and females live 80 years in the wild, and one female was found to be 152 years old [1, 2].

Where are they found? Lake sturgeons are found in freshwater rivers and lakes from Canada to Alabama. They are considered threatened, since over-fishing has greatly decreased their once robust population.

What do they eat? Like most bottom feeders, the lake sturgeon eats anything it comes across that is edible: small invertebrates, mollusks, insect larvae, fish eggs [3] and probably folks wearing cement shoes.

Sturgeon
Figure 1. Lake sturgeons reach enormous sizes, some well over 300 pounds.

What do they look like? They can grow very large, up to 6 feet long and weigh over 300 pounds [3], see figure 1.

How do they reproduce? Female sturgeons spawn eggs every 4 to 9 years, but they do not reach sexual maturity until they are between 14 and 33 years old. Males reach sexual maturity between 8 to 12 years old and spawn every 2 to 7 years [4]. There does not seem to be any information available about the reproductive senescence of this species.

How do scientists know how old they are? People estimate a sturgeon’s age based on the length of the fish. Here’s a chart for your reference.

So what are we lacking? There’s no information regarding the nuclear genome of Acipenser fulvescens on NCBI (National Center for Biotechnology Information). There is, however, information on the NCBI regarding the mitochondrial genome. Better age analysis techniques and reproductive senescence information would be useful too.

Conservation status: Vulnerable depending on your location, so check specific guidelines related to fishing if you plan to have one for dinner. Huge efforts have been made to restore populations due to over-harvesting of these giant fish.

Weird facts: There’s evidence that the Lake sturgeons cousin, the Leaping sturgeon, is possibly taking revenge on humans (Leaping Sturgeon Kills 5-Year-Old Florida Girl Boating With Family). It’s not just the people and alligators in Florida that you have to worry about.

Please contact me if you have information regarding how this species ages, or rather avoids aging altogether.

 

  1. New York State Department of Environmental Conservation: http://www.dec.ny.gov/press/106734.html
  2. Probst, Robert T., and Edwin L. Cooper. “Age, growth, and production of the lake sturgeon (Acipenser fulvescens) in the Lake Winnebago region, Wisconsin.” Transactions of the American Fisheries Society 84.1 (1955): 207-227.
  3. Georgia  Department of Natural  Resources.
  4. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Lake Sturgeon.