Bizarre Appearance of Amur Sturgeon
The Amur sturgeon (or Acipenser schrenckii) is an impressive fish species. Found only in the Amur River Basin and some of its tributaries located in the Russian Far East, this is an ancient species that has been around for more than 130 million years. They are considered to be the world’s rarest sturgeon species and are one of the most threatened fish out there.
This species is quite impressive in terms of appearance. They are covered with five diamond-shaped rows of bony scutes that look like armor. These are grown new every year, and although some are faint, both males and females have this unique feature. As for color, these fish are grey-brown with a light underside. Their coloration changes during their lifespan. Fish between 8 and 10 years old generally have a more yellowish hue.
Species of the Amur Sturgeon can reach an incredible size. The fish can grow up to 7 meters in length and can weigh up to 900 kilograms. This makes them amongst the largest species of fish out there. The fish can also live for over 100 years, so you can see why they are so rare.
Adaptable Nature of The Fish
Aside from its impressive size and looks, the Amur sturgeon also has a very remarkable adaptability. Unlike many other species of sturgeon, the Amur sturgeon can adapt to almost any kind of environment. This means it can live in both very acidic and alkaline water, as well as in different temperatures. They can be found in the rapids and even in the shallow waters of numerous rivers and lakes in the region.
As for food, the species is known for its unique dietary habits. They feed on crustaceans such as insects, worms, mollusks, and other aquatic species. These habits enable the species to survive in almost any kind of water. It also means that this species is far less dependent on human activities than other species.
Reproductive Cycle of Amur Sturgeon
The Amur sturgeon have an extraordinary reproductive cycle. Unlike other species, Amur sturgeon usually reach reproductive maturity after 12-13 years. The spawning time usually starts in August, but it can start in June if the summer is especially hot.
Once the spawning season begins, female Amur sturgeon can produce up to 2 million eggs in a single year. Generally, these eggs are attached to the substrate of the water by sticky threads and hatch after around 14 days. During this time, the fish actively guard their eggs, but also fan them to increase aeration in order to provide the eggs with oxygen.
The Amur sturgeon fry hatch very small and adrift in the water. They feed on microscopic organisms and gradually grow in size by the end of their first summer. During this time, their coloration also changes from a grey-brown to a silver-yellow color.
Economical Value of Amur Sturgeon
In addition to its unique physical features and biology, the Amur sturgeon are also highly valued for its meat, eggs, and fins. The meat of an Amur sturgeon is widely considered to be some of the tastiest fish meat out there, with a firm texture and a delicate flavor. The eggs or praised for their creamy texture and are used in the production of caviar.
The Amur sturgeon is also highly appreciated for its fins, which are used in traditional oriental medicine. The fins have been used for centuries by ancient physicians, as they have powerful healing properties that can be used to treat a variety of ailments.
Threats to the Amur Sturgeon
Sadly, the Amur sturgeon is facing a growing number of threats. The largest threat to this species is habitat destruction due to pollution, drainage, and dam construction. This species is very sensitive to its environment, so any change in water levels, quality, and temperature can easily decimate their population.
Another threat to the species is illegal fishing and poaching. Despite being illegal, the harvesting of Amur sturgeon for caviar and fins is still widespread in the region. This has resulted in a dramatic decrease in the population of this species, with some numbers suggesting that the species has decreased by as much as 90 percent in some parts of the Amur River Basin.
Given the precarious state of the Amur sturgeon population, numerous conservation efforts have been undertaken in recent years. One of the most important is the Amur Sturgeon Conservation Project (ASCP). This project is implemented jointly by the Russian Federation, China, and the United States and is responsible for protecting this species from complete extinction.
The project includes extensive research that has helped to determine the most effective measures to protect the species. This includes controlling illegal fishing and poaching, habitat protection, and even targeted reintroduction of the species into habitats that it has lost.
The efforts of the ASCP have been quite successful and have helped the recovery of the species in the region. Although the population is still struggling, there are still hopes that this species can be saved from complete eradication.
In conclusion, the Amur sturgeon is truly a remarkable species with impressive adaptability and a very interesting biology. Its size, looks, and economic value make it even more impressive. Although the species is facing some serious threats, conservation efforts are helping to save this species from complete extinction.
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