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GIANTS OF THE GREAT LAKES

Sturgeon

Called "Nme" in Ottawa language, Lake Sturgeon are the largest fish native to the Great Lakes basin. They can grow up to eight feet (2.4 meters) in length and weigh up to 300 pounds (136 kilograms). Having evolved very slowly over the last 200 million years earning them the nickname of "living Fossils", today the once abundant Lake Sturgeon are an endangered or threatened species. Overfishing, river obstructions both natural and manmade, habitat loss and various forms of pollution have contributed to their decline. In Michigan waters, it is estimated that the current population is less than 1% of their former abundance.

Today various groups, including scientists, government agencies and other organizations are working together to reverse the causes of the Lake Sturgeon decline.

You can help in this effort:

Become knowledgeable about Lake Sturgeon and share that knowledge with school groups and community organizations.

Understand and adhere to all fishing and environmental regulations and report illegal activity.

Become involved in Lake Sturgeon festivals (May in Port Huron) and volunteer with organizations that promote Lake Sturgeon conservation.

LAKE STURGEON BIOLOGY:

Male Lake Sturgeon live an average of 55 years and begin mating at about 15 years. The male can mate every year or two. Females can live up to 150 years and reach sexual maturity at around 20 years. After that the female spawns about every four to six years dropping 50,000-700,000 eggs as the males fertilize them. Spawning is water temperature and flow dependent making the Saint Clair River one of the most suitable spawning grounds for Lake Sturgeon.

FROM REVILED TO REVERED:

Lake Sturgeon were once a plentiful and important food source for Native Americans. Initially considered a nuisance species by early commercial fishermen, by the 1880s the fish's commercial value was accepted and Lake Sturgeon were over-harvested almost to extinction. Commercial fishing of Lake Sturgeon in US waters was discontinued in 1977 and today it is a legally protected species.

Sturgeon Festival - Port Huron

Lake Sturgeon Population - EPA

Great Lakes Sturgeon Collaboration - FWS

Fishing & Regulation Info - DNR