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White Sturgeons Move to Oregon

Two large White sturgeons given permanent home at Bonneville Hatchery

Thursday, October 21, 2021

Near the end of August, Liz Bergin (Aquarist) and Sean Hopewell (Dive Program Manager) made a trip to Cascade Locks, Oregon, with two special passengers. Our White sturgeons (previously seen in the Aquarium’s Discover Utah hall) outgrew their habitat, and the keepers began looking for a possible new home earlier this year.

Our team worked with the Bonneville Hatchery, which is a part of the Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife, to re-home our two sturgeons. The hatchery sits on the Columbia River, and is more than a salmon spawning facility. It is a beautiful park with display ponds where you can feed Rainbow trout, or view adult White sturgeon that reach over 10 feet long, plus you can picnic and watch the wildlife and waterfowl. The Sturgeon Viewing Center is home to Herman the Sturgeon, a local fish celebrity, who is over 80 years old and weighs 500 pounds (pictured below behind Liz.)

White sturgeon live primarily in large estuaries of the western coast of North America, but they migrate further up river to spawn in freshwater. The species is recognizable by the white scutes that form a line down the back and down the sides on the lateral line. They don’t actually have scales other than those large scutes. Though they are considered a member of the ray-finned fish family, sturgeon have a mostly cartilaginous skeleton, like sharks.

The White sturgeon is the largest freshwater fish in North America, reaching lengths of up to 20 feet long! The largest one ever caught was in 1898, and it weighed 1,500 pounds. They have been known to live for as long as 100 years. Their appearance has barely changed in 200 million years.

The Bonneville Hatchery will give our White sturgeon enough space to reach full size and live for many years to come, potentially out-living most of us.

Special thanks to the people who made this transfer possible:

Dan Green, Bonneville Fish Hatchery
Taylor Foley, Bonneville Fish Hatchery
Kathy Konishi, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
Aimee Reed, ODFW Fish Health Services
Scott Leibsle, Idaho State Department of Agriculture

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