Lake sturgeon are going viral! In April, researchers with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service found a 240-pound lake sturgeon in the Detroit River. The news — coupled with a striking photo of a researcher lying on the floor of their boat next to a person-sized fish — got picked up by media outlets around the world (including The Guardian, NPR, and even People). Many articles mentioned Michigan Sea Grant as a resource for lake sturgeon information or noted our involvement in sturgeon restoration efforts.
Earlier this month, Michigan Sea Grant Extension Educators Meaghan Gass and Brandon Schroeder had their own brush with sturgeon stardom when they visited the Black River in Cheboygan County, MI, to gather footage of researchers surveying adult lake sturgeon. They were able to snap a few quick photos with a female lake sturgeon that weighed almost 130 pounds!
Lake sturgeon are a unique Great Lakes species. They can grow up to 7 feet long and can weigh up to 300 pounds. The slow-maturing fish do not begin reproducing until they are 15-20 years old. Once abundant in many Michigan lakes and rivers, lake sturgeon were nearly eradicated due to overfishing and habitat loss, particularly the destruction of rocky reefs in rivers that sturgeon and other native fish species use for spawning. In recent years, many partnerships and projects are working to restore sturgeon to a self-sustaining level in Michigan. This work includes restoring sturgeon habitat, reintroducing sturgeon into their native ranges, and raising awareness and appreciation for this unique species.