The AP has reported that the whisker-snouted sturgeon – a 300 pound fish that look like a cross between a catfish and a shark, and managed to survive whatever cataclysm befell the dinosaurs — has now seemingly met its match in the human race, as the endangered species now struggles against habitat destruction and overfishing.
But all of the news for the bony platted, prehistoric whisker-snouted sturgeon isn’t bad, as there is a small pocket of water in upper Wisconsin that can boast of having one of the world’s largest concentrations of the fish. The success is because of the state’s strict spearing limits, poaching laws, restocking efforts and the popular — and well-protected — spring spawning. State sturgeon expert, Ron Bruch, had this to say:
“If we can restore the sturgeon population in the Great Lakes and manage the current population effectively, then we know we are doing a pretty good job of managing the other aspects of the aquatic community.”
In Lake Winnebago there are now around 40,000 lake sturgeons, likely where the population was in the 1800s. In the 1950s, it was 10,000. Whereas in the Great Lakes system, there are now about 156,750, less than 1% of what it was in early 1800s, said Rob Elliott, a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service biologist.
Thousands from around the state and elsewhere visit the Lake Winnebago system tributaries to watch the enormous fish writhe and splash as they lay eggs in shallow, moving water. 73-year-old sturgeon protection volunteer, Pat Wudtke, feels that these bizarre looking fish can grow on you:
“Some people say they are awful homely, awful bad looking, but to me… they are beautiful fish, just like a beautiful blonde… I’ll do everything I can to preserve them.”