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Common Fish Species of Northwestern Ontario

MAMMALS

BIRDS

REPTILES

INSECTS

   
Acipenser fulvescens
Lake Sturgeon

Lake Sturgeon

Description

Distinguishing Features - Overall colouration: slate-grey to black above light beneath young tan or buff colored, sometimes contrastingly blotched with dark becoming more uniformly dark with age. Body: thick-set and torpedo-shaped; skin: tough and leathery armor-plated, with five longitudinal rows of heavy, bony plates; skeleton: cartilaginous; tail: upturned and shark-like, upper lobe longer than lower. Head: roundly conical in shape and not flattened; spiracles (openings from the throat cavity to the outside above and behind the eyes) are present. Snout: long, pointed, with four barbels, or tissue filaments. Mouth: inferior and almost sucker-like, capable of being protracted for ease in sucking foods off the bottom. Feeds entirely by taste, having four fleshy barbels on the underside of the snout, which act as sense organs to gauge the distance from the mouth to the bottom.

Size - Average Weight - 4.5 kg - 36 kg (10 - 80 lb); average length - .9 - 1.5 m (3 - 5 ft).

Habitat

Lake Sturgeon spawn from early May to late June, but enter spawning streams as soon as the ice is gone. Spawning occurs in swift water, rapids, or the bases of small falls. The species is found throughout the Great Lakes.

Notes

The Lake Sturgeon is considered a "living fossil" because of its bony-plated appearance. It once ranged widely, from the Great Lakes to the Mississippi River, and eastward. The sturgeon has been exceptionally vulnerable to overfishing, largely because of its slow reproductive cycle. The female needs more than 20 years to mature, and then spawns only every four to six years during its 50-100 year lifespan.


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