Researchers in British Columbia this month captured the largest Nechako White Sturgeon on record. Weighing 336 pounds, she is reportedly 100 years old and extremely fertile. The massive fish, which was released again after being examined by researchers, is ready to spawn this year and is expected to produce thousands of eggs. The Nechako White Sturgeon Conservation Centre has not yet settled on a name for the enormous sturgeon.
Researchers find centenarian sturgeon
White Sturgeons, which are native to the West coast of North America, have changed very little in the last 70 million years; the species has survived almost untouched from the time of the dinosaurs.
Still the largest freshwater fish in North America, the White Sturgeons are now endangered and face the threat of extinction in the coming years if conservation efforts fail.
The Nechacko White Sturgeon Conservation Centre, which first captured the record breaking sturgeon in 2011, is devoted to protecting the species in Canada.
Since this first capture in 2011, the fish has gained 52 pounds and grown by seven inches, to reach her current length of 9.6 feet.
While she was not ready to spawn at the time of her 2011 capture, this time the creature was found at just the right time; researchers were able to bring her to the conservation center to spawn before releasing her back into the Nechako River.
The Nechako River White Sturgeons are genetically distinct from other Northwest populations of White Sturgeons.
Massive fish ready to spawn
Researchers realized even before the fish was caught that she would be record breaking find. The previous record holder, caught in 2007, weighed 320 pounds.
While the average sturgeon is much younger, some individuals have been recorded as having lived for more than a century.
Born in the 1920s, the record breaking catch has spent the tumultuous 20th century feeding on crustaceans, mollusks, plants, and other fish at the bottom of the Nechako River.
While she is nearly blind now, the sturgeon is still healthy and exceptionally fertile, meaning that she might live on to add to the potentially millions of eggs she has produced in her lifetime.
While very few of these eggs will eventually become successful adult sturgeons, quantity is key for the species, which as eggs or hatchlings face a number of natural threats.
Aside from human intervention or her own age, however, there isn’t much that can threaten the massive unnamed sturgeon which is now swimming freely again in the Nechako.