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White Sturgeon Acipenser transmontanus


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White Sturgeon
credit: Josephe Hut

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Family: Acipenseridae, Sturgeons view all from this family

Description The white sturgeon (Acipenser transmontanus, meaning "sturgeon beyond the mountains"), also known as the Pacific sturgeon, Oregon sturgeon, Columbia sturgeon, Sacramento sturgeon, and California white sturgeon, is a sturgeon (a fish of the family Acipenseridae) which lives along the west coast of North America from the Aleutian Islands to Central California.

It is the largest freshwater fish in North America and is the third largest species of sturgeon, after the Beluga and the Kaluga. The white sturgeon is known to reach a maximum size of 816 kg (1,798 lb) and 6.1 m (20.1 ft).

The white sturgeon has a slender, long body, head and mouth. This fish has no scales; instead it has large bony scutes that serve as a form of armor. There are 11–14 dorsal scutes, all anterior to the dorsal fin, and 38–48 lateral scutes and 9–12 ventral scutes on each side. The dorsal color of a White Sturgeon is gray, pale olive, or gray-brown. The fins are a dusky, opaque gray. The underside is a clean white. It has four barbels, used for sensing food, near its huge toothless mouth.

Sturgeons are classified as a bony fish, but actually are more cartilaginous than bony, their internal bone structure being more like a shark's. Sturgeon have changed very little since they first appeared, over 175 million years ago and thus have the appearance of a very ancient fish.

Dimensions Up to 12'6" (3.8 m); 1,387 lbs (630 kg).

Endangered Status The White Sturgeon is on the U.S. Endangered Species List. It is classified as endangered in Idaho and Montana. This fish began its decline after the Libby Dam went into operation in 1974 and altered conditions in the Kootenai River, in which it lives. The dam and other human encroachments have affected the sturgeon's spawning, egg incubation, nursery, and offspring-rearing habitats. Efforts are underway by both Canadian and U.S. organizations to monitor the sturgeon population and the dams and waterways that affect its habitat.

Habitat Ocean or bay shallows, Rivers & streams.

Range California, Northwest, Western Canada, Alaska.