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Lake Sturgeon

LAKE STURGEON

SCIENTIFIC NAME: Acipenser fulvescens

CHARACTERISTICS: In the lake sturgeon, the snout is rounded, and a small spricale is present above and behind each eye. The barbels are smooth, not fringed. The caudal peduncle is not completely covered with dermal plates. The lower lip has two lobes. The back may be light tan to moderate brown, grading to cream color on the venter. Fins are similarly colored. See Rafinesque (1817a) for original description.

ADULT SIZE: 7 to 9 ft (2.1 to 2.7 m)

DISTRIBUTION: The major populations of lake sturgeon are widespread in northern latitudes of the United States and Canada. In Alabama, its collection at only four locations—two in the Tennessee River, two in the Coosa River—coupled with the lack of recent collections indicates that the fish was extirpated from state waters. Even so, the species is not in immediate jeopardy, because adults have been artificially spawned and reintroduced into the species’ former range in Georgia. Some of these fish have now been caught  in Alabama.

Lake sturgeon have recently been stocked into the upper Coosa River basin by the Georgia Department of Natural Resources (DNR). Lake sturgeon have been captured in Lake Weiss and the upper Coosa River of Alabama. Lake sturgeon cannot be kept in either Alabama or Georgia, but the Georgia DNR would appreciate hearing about captures or sightings.  Note the date and location of your sighting, photograph the fish if possible, and give your name and telephone number to: Wildlife Resources Division, Fisheries Management Section, P. O. Box 519 Calhoun, GA 30703 or call (706) 624-1161 and leave your name and telephone number.

HABITAT AND BIOLOGY: Little is known about this species’ life history in Alabama. According to studies of northern populations by Scott and Crossman (1973) and Becker (1983), lake sturgeon live on the bottoms of rivers and large streams that have gravel and sand substrates and moderate or swift currents. They feed on benthic (bottom-living) invertebrates, including crayfish, aquatic insect larvae, and mollusks. Only a portion of the adult population migrates upstream into larger streams and spawns in any one year; the time between spawns ranges from four to nine years. Spawning occurs from April into June and lasts for one or two days. Adults congregate in shallow water over gravel in moderate or strong currents, where two males generally spawn with a single female. Some 50,000 to 700,000 eggs are deposited per spawn; larger females may deposit as many as one to three million eggs. Adults leave the spawning site soon afterward to avoid being trapped by summer’s lower water levels.

ORIGINAL DESCRIPTION: Rafinesque described the lake sturgeon in 1817.

ETYMOLOGY:
Acipenser means sturgeon.
Fulvescens means yellowish.

The copyrighted information above is from Fishes of Alabama and the Mobile Basin., and the information has been updated with current information.

Note: In Alabama, it is illegal to stock or move any fish, mussel, snail or crayfish to any public water without a permit.


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