not collated properly yet)
Sturgeon are found only in the Northern Hemisphere. There are 25 species of sturgeon. Only one species is found in British seas and rivers. It is Acipenser sturio, the Atlantic (Baltic) Sturgeon. It is anadromous, a migratory species entering rivers to spawn and then returning to sea.
Today very few are found in British waters and it is probably unknown
in our rivers. It was common two centuries ago in our large rivers including
the Severn, Avon, Thames (the remnants have been found in the medieval
remains of Westminster Abbey), Ouse and some Scottish rivers. A fully grown
sturgeon can weigh up to 318 kg (700 lb) and females can measure
3.4 metres (11 ft) or more. In colour it varies from greenish-brown to
bluish-black dorsally, lightening on the sides to white ventrally. The
dorsal scutes are light in colour. The colour deepens with age and in the
young the scutes are conspicuously light and the fish has a striped appearance.
The Sturgeon is sometimes described as a prehistoric monster: only parts
of the skeleton are ossified (i.e. calcified, bony). The skull is made
up of cartilage, as are most of the vertebrae, whereas in most bony
fishes the whole skeleton is made up of bones. Ancestral forms include
two genera from the Jurassic Period (195 to 136 million years ago). Only
fragments exist indicating that they were probably 6-7.5 metres (20-25
ft) long. The sucking mouth and plated armour developed later and fossil
remains of today's sturgeon have been found in rocks dating from
the Eocene Epoch (54 to 40 million years ago).
The majority of bony fishes are classified in the Infraclass Teleostei.
For information on the evolution of fishes see the 'Rise of Fishes' reviewed at 07.02.31).
Alan Knight can be contacted at:
A recent reprinted article in our local paper, the Newark Advertiser, told of a large sturgeon that was found in the River Trent. It was shot and pulled onto the bank were it was exhibited with a charge of one penny being levied. The reason that this one was shot? A large fish, some time earlier, had destroyed eel nets.
Message from Wayne Nussey-----------------------
Dear Alan Knight,
I've just read your piece on sturgeon in the Severn with considerable
interest. I have known the river, freshwater, for 40+ years.
2 November 2013
long SiberianSturgeon, Acipenser
baerii, was caught on rod and
line by Peter
Johnson off Greenhithe
Pier in the River Thames
estuary. It is was released back into the sea after capture. This
species is native to the Ob
river systems that flow into the Arctic Ocean, in Siberia. In its native
habitat it is condered anadromous
and able to migrate the sea and live in salt or brackish water. but it
is mostly to be found in the freshwater reaches of these large rivers.
Therefore, it has been found suitable for aquaculture
and the pet trade and the most likely reason for its appearance is that
was accidentally or deliberately released from a captive specimen.
The catch was reported to French and German experts by the Institute of Fisheries Management (IFM) and they identified it.
It follows another sturgeon caught more than 200 miles away near Pembroke Dock, South Wales, in August. That was the first reported in Britain since 2004 when a monster more than eight feet long was snagged by a trawler also in South Wales,
Steve Colclough, chairman of the IFM’s marine specialist section, said the fish could possibly be one lost from cages in the Gironde river in France some years ago during a caviar farming experiment.
he said, it was more likely an escapee from the UK pet trade. He explained:
“These exotic species are imported and this may show that some are now
escaping into the wild. The Pembroke Dock sturgeon was probably also a
pet trade fugitive.”
Mr.Colclough said a yellow tag on a sturgeon would show it had probably migrated from the Gironde river in France where they are now being bred and released.
These fish would normally stay in the Gironde until they were about ten years old when they might migrate to the open sea.
If they came to the UK they would most likely be caught in estuaries and still be juvenile fish. Normally they would live 50 or 60 years and grow up to three-metres (about 10 feet) long.
Mr. Colclough would also like to hear from anyone who catches a sturgeon at firstname.lastname@example.org or 01634 327899.
2 June 2004
A Sturgeon, Acipenser sp., was caught in an otter trawl in Bristol Channel south of Swansea at 2:30 pm in the small (under 10 metre) fishing vessel MFV Wonkey SA357, skippered by Robert (or Kevin) Davies. It weighed 120 kg (265 lb), and was was 261 cm (8 ft 6") long (including the tail fin) and 246 cm long (excluding the tail).It was caught at a depth of between 10 and 20 metres. I believe it to be Acipenser sturio, but the snout is fairly short and blunt, more like Acipenser gueldenstaedtii (but this is a Danube/Black sea species).
Early July 1998
Anyway, I had the great opportunity to taste farmed sturgeon caviar at the Association des Aquaculteurs de la Région Centre (Orléans, France) and it was really great !
Completely protected in Europe as it is listed in Habitats, Fauna
and Flora (Appendices II and IV) and Bern Convention (Appendix II) .
At sea sturgeon can be caught with bottom trawls as well as gill net and trammel net of wide mesh size. Most of the time fish are alive when they are caught and fishermen must be put back at sea alive. As I mentioned it is strictly forbiden to keep this fish as well as to sell it.
A European Life project is going on from 1994 with scientits of several countries, and we can send information to people interested these rare species.
If you have any other information about this capture. I greatly appreciate to get them
Thank you very much for your help.
> Eric Rochard PhD
Alan Knight (BMLSS member) is researching Sturgeon
in British seas and rivers and would like to receive all historic records
and details of recent captures. Please EMail the BMLSS on the number below.
Details will be forwarded to Alan Knight.
Information wanted: Please send any records of this fish, with
location, date, who discovered it, how it was identified, prevalence, common
name and any other details to Shorewatch
|British Marine Life Study Society|