Forest Feature: Sturgeon
Imagine you’re swimming in the beautiful Columbia River Gorge, and you open your eyes and see a 8 ft shadow lurking in the depths.
No, it’s not a shark, it’s a sturgeon – the Acipenser transmontanus!
This ancient family Acipenseridae dates its lineage back to the Triassic period (245-805 million year ago). Despite human interference and over-fishing, it still clings on to existence across the world’s many rivers.
Some examples of the species look absolutely wild… just look at this Chinese paddlefish!
In the Pacific Northwest, we have two species of sturgeon – the White Sturgeon and Green Sturgeon.
If you visit the Bonneville Dam fish hatchery, located in the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area, you can meet Herman the Sturgeon, an 11 ft 500 lbs fish who, at 79 years old, is only middle-aged for a sturgeon but also represents, possibly, the closest living genetic relative to ancient dinosaurs.
Herman and some of his less-famous sturgeon buddies can be viewed, up close and personal, in a viewing pond at the Sturgeon Viewing and Interpretive Center, which includes a viewing window for looking beneath the surface of the two-acre pond that is home to Herman, a number of smaller sturgeon, and some trout.
What other wild creatures inhabit Pacific Northwest forests?
Go. Play. It’s all yours!
Source information: Forest Features highlight a new Pacific Northwest species (or sometimes, a family, order, kingdom, or genus) each month as part of the USDA Forest Service – Pacific Northwest Region’s regional youth engagement strategy.
If you’d like fact sheets, activities, or links to other educational resources about this topic – and for information about other ways the Forest Service can help incorporate environmental education and forest science in your Pacific Northwest classroom – email YourNorthwestForests@fs.fed.us.