Pond Life #1

As a fellow pond inhabitant, I have always had something of a soft spot for the sturgeon.

Sturgeon belong to an ancient family of fishes, and fossil records show that they are little changed since the time of the dinosaurs: “if it ain’t broke, why fix it?”, is what I always say.

They seem pretty placid creatures.  Theirs is an unobtrusive existence, chiefly feeding on small fish, shells and crustaceans, which they detect using their prominent barbels.

Some species are capable of growing to a considerable size: lengths of over 20 feet, and weighing in at over 1500kg are not unheard of.  They are also one of the longest living fish, some individuals living well over 100 years.

Sturgeon are very distinctive in appearance.  As well as the long sensory barbels, which project from close to their mouth, most species tend to have a prominent snout, and are partially covered in rows of large, bony plates, which look rather like armour.

Sadly, most species of sturgeon in the wild are gravely endangered.  As well as suffering as a result of destruction of their habitat, the primary reason for the sturgeon population’s fragility is overfishing.  Sturgeon have long been caught for their roe, which is processed and made into caviar.

There are 27 separate species of sturgeon, including the Yangtze Sturgeon, the Russian Sturgeon, the Atlantic Sturgeon and the most famous Beluga Sturgeon, all quietly going about their bottom-feeding existence, peacefully sucking up food through their toothless mouths.

The one exception is the rare Scottish Sturgeon, which is known to bite the hand that feeds it.

© The Mudskipper

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