How long do they live? White sturgeons can live up to 104 years old based on otolith ring counts [1]. Otoliths are like the ear bones of a fish and the only way to count them is to kill the fish. So, technically we have no idea how long they can live.

Where are they found? White sturgeons can be found from the bay of Alaska and Aleutian Islands all the way to central California, which is a range common to the rockfishes. Unlike rockfishes, White sturgeons will travel into inland rivers to reproduce.

What do they eat? They’re not too picky and they’ll eat a range of other animals including smaller live fish, dead fish, eels, and crustaceans.

What do they look like? White sturgeons can grow to be 19 feet long and weigh over 1,300 pounds [2]. In other words, they get huge! They look a lot like the previous sturgeons I posted about, but they have a bony snout that serves as armor. See figures 1,2, and 3.

acipenser_transmontanus
Figure 1. A juvenile White sturgeon. This picture made me immediately want to build a giant aquarium and add 10 of these babies to it.
white_sturgeon_-_acipenser_tranmontanus_joseph_r-_tomelleri
Figure 2. But then I was reminded that White sturgeons grow to be gigantic.
white_sturgeon_farming_california
Figure 3. So, I may need a larger aquarium, or a river or something. Look at these monsters!

How do they reproduce? White sturgeons may hit sexual maturity between 10 to 25 years old, although that is just an estimate as no thorough studies have been completed [2]. They spawn in inland rivers and it seems they can continue reproducing throughout their entire lifespan, although reduced fecundity has been noted [3]. Fecundity means the ability to produce offspring or the reproduction rate of an animal.

How do scientists know how old they are? Otolith counts [1].

So what are we lacking? There’s only information regarding the mitochondrial genome of Acipenser transmontanus on the NCBI (National Center for Biotechnology Information) website. We’re also lacking age verification and complete reproductive senescence information.

Conservation status: White sturgeons are noted as Least concern and stable according to the IUCN Red List.

Please contact me if you have information regarding the White sturgeon and how it achieves such a long lifespan.

  1. Cailliet, G. M., et al. “Age determination and validation studies of marine fishes: do deep-dwellers live longer?.” Experimental gerontology 36.4 (2001): 739-764.
  2. Animal Diversity Web. Acipenser transmontanus.  http://animaldiversity.org/accounts/Acipenser_transmontanus/. Accessed 9/28/2016.
  3. Webb A.H. Molly. Investigation of Potential Methods by which to Determine and Monitor Reproductive Senescence in White Sturgeon. Department of Fisheries and Wildlife Oregon State University. 2003. http://temporarypost1.org/resources/Library/WhiteSturgeon/2003-webb-senescence_report.pdf. Accessed 9/28/2016.