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Kaluga Sturgeon (Huso dauricus)

Status | Taxonomy | Species Description | Habitat | Distribution |
Population Trends | Threats | Conservation Efforts | Regulatory Overview |
Key Documents | More Info

 

Status
ESA Endangered - throughout its range
CITES Appendix II - throughout its range

Taxonomy
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Actinopterygii
Order: Acipenseriformes
Family: Acipenseridae
Genus: Huso
Species: dauricus

Species Description
Weight: up to 2,200 pounds (1,000 kg)
Length: up to 18.5 feet (5.5 m)
Appearance:  gray-green to black backs with a yellowish green-white belly; they have 5 major rows of "scutes"
Lifespan: at least 20 years
Diet: invertebrates and fishes
Behavior: they migrate upriver in spring in spawn

Kaluga sturgeon are one of the world's largest freshwater fishes--they can grow as long a 18.5 feet (5.5 m) and weigh up to 2,200 pounds (1,000 kg). They have gray-green to black backs with a yellowish green-white belly. They have five major rows of dermal scutes.

Juveniles feed on invertebrates for the first few years, but then they feed on fish. Kaluga sturgeon eat fish more than most other sturgeons. They have a crescent-shaped mouth with flat barbels to help them gulp down fish. However, Kaluga sturgeon do not feed during winter.

Habitat
Kaluga sturgeon are semi-anadromous, spending some of its life in salt water but most of its life in freshwater.

Spawning occurs from May-July at water temperatures of 70°F (12-20°C), over pebble deposits in calm waters of the main riverbed, in depths of 6-10 feet (2-3 m). They begin to migrate downstream almost immediately after hatching. Young enter the Sea of Okhotsk during the summer.

Distribution
Kaluga sturgeon are found in the lower reaches of the Amur River of Russia and China.

Historically, Kaluga sturgeon inhabited the lower two-thirds of the Amur River, from its estuary to its uppermost sections and tributaries, including these rivers:

  • Shilka
  • Onon
  • Argun
  • Nerch
  • Sungari
  • Nonni
  • Ussuri
  • Neijian

Population Trends
Kaluga sturgeon have declined sharply since the 1800s. Official catch records dropped from:

  • 595 tons in 1881
  • 61 tons in 1948
  • 89 tons in 1996

Since 2000, Kaluga sturgeon older than 10 years have not been observed in the Amur River channel during non-spawning periods, suggesting that adults from the resident stocks in the Amur River are absent.

Threats
Historically:

  • overfishing led to widespread declines in Kaluga sturgeon abundance
    • commercial and recreational fishing occurred since the 1800s but is now generally banned

Current threats include:

  • "bycatch" of sturgeon in fisheries targeting other species and poaching
  • habitat degradation and loss from various human activities
  • planned dams
  • pollution and poor water quality
  • parasites
  • competition from introduced or hybrid sturgeon

Although there are no known diseases threatening Kaluga sturgeon populations, there is concern that diseases could be introduced through aquaculture operations for other sturgeon species.

Conservation Efforts
Kaluga sturgeon are listed in Appendix II of CITES, which regulates international trade.

Russia and China have stocking programs, but no reproduction of stocked fish has been confirmed.

Regulatory Overview
In 2012, WildEarth Guardians and Friends of Animals petitioned [pdf] us to list 15 foreign sturgeon species under the ESA. We proposed to list 5 species as endangered under the ESA. (The other 10 species were determined to be under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and USFWS is reviewing their status.)

Key Documents
(All documents are in PDF format.)

Title Federal Register Date
Final Endangered Listing of Five Sturgeon Species 79 FR 31222 06/02/2014

Proposed Endangered Listing of Five Species of Sturgeons under the ESA

78 FR 65249 10/31/2013
Status Review   10/2013
90-day Finding on a Petition To List Five Species of Sturgeon as Threatened or Endangered under the ESA 77 FR 51767 08/27/2012
Petition to List 15 Sturgeon Species as Threatened or Endangered n/a various

More Information

Updated: June 2, 2014

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