Saturday, August 20, 2016

Sturgeon: Be Responsible

Sturgeon are ancient fish who swam in the waters when the dinosaurs first emerged on the earth. Today, these living fossils are considered to be the most primitive of the bony fish. Sturgeon belongs to the Acipenseridae family which has twenty-seven species. Native to the lakes, rivers, and coastlines of Eurasia and North America, these giant fish resemble armored torpedoes. Their distinctive bony plates (hard scutes) stud their back and sides.

One thing that Sturgeons are well-known for are their dramatic leaping out of the water. In his poem, The Song of Hiawatha, Longfellow described this – “saw the sturgeon, Nahma leaping, scattering drops like beads of wampum.” As the largest fish in freshwater, a massive Sturgeon can kill or break the bones of unwary boaters. As to why They leap, nobody knows. Theories range from communicating in their group to Sturgeon simply enjoying doing it.

Sturgeon have been highly regarded in many cultures. In India, Sturgeons represented royalty. Among the Natives Peoples of North America, Sturgeon provided both wisdom and food. Ancient Greeks regarded sturgeon eggs (caviar) as a gift from Aphrodite, the Goddess of Love. In Europe, Sturgeon migrating up the Danube would feed entire villages by allowing Themselves to be caught. When people became too greedy, these Fish stopped coming.

In Europe and North America, Sturgeon were once plentiful. However, the demand for caviar has halved their life expectancy from over 100 years to about 50 years. In the Great Lakes, overfishing and pollution has decimated those populations. The story of Sturgeon is a sad one of people ceasing to respect Them. Now this remarkable Fish is going extinct because of human folly.

Governments in Europe and North America have made concentrated efforts to save the remaining Sturgeon. Because of this, populations for some species of Sturgeon have stabilized on the Danube, Ural, and Volga Rivers. These Fish are making a small comeback in the Great Lakes Regions as people rehabilitate the environment to be more receptive to the well-being of the Sturgeon.

Alarmed by the pending extinction of Gulf Sturgeon, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, U.S. Air Force, state wildlife agencies and local universities combined their efforts to save this Fish. The result is that these populations of Sturgeon are thriving in Florida, and are expanding to other regional rivers. Meanwhile, Native Peoples of North America have joined with various governments and commercial fisheries to keep the Sturgeon in their regions from becoming extinct. In 1977, the citizens living around Lake Winnebago (Wisconsin) watershed formed “Sturgeon for Tomorrow.” Their efforts were rewarded with a “stunning recovery in that watershed” for Sturgeon today.

Sturgeon teaches responsibility. Because of human carelessness and deliberate action, Sturgeon, worldwide, are close to extinction. Today, people are trying to repair the damage that has been done. It is an uncertain future for Sturgeon but They are amazingly resilient fish. Willing to work with people, Sturgeon have been consuming the invasive zebra mussels and gobies in the Great Lakes. In return, people are taking responsibility for the well-being of this ancient Fish.
The sturgeon of Sturgeon Moon are the sturgeon of the Great Lakes.

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