In times past, the fish was in great abundance in the Atlantic. Fishermen were not interested in the massive fish until the meat became popular as an export. In more recent times, it has been caught primarily for the production of caviar. The product became so popular that the fish is now endangered.
Sturgeon are among the oldest living species of fish and have retained many primitive characteristics. Rather than having true scales, the Atlantic sturgeon has five rows of bony plates called scutes causing it to have an “armored” appearance. Coloring of the sturgeon ranges from blue-black to olive green with a white underside.
The sturgeon’s bony plates are not the only strange aspect of their appearance. Their eyes are tiny and there are barbels on their face that help them locate prey in murky waters. Their bizarre look makes it easy to imagine how early sailors must have responded when spotting these ‘sea monsters’ and it’s certainly feasible that they are responsible for some accounts of weird aquatic creatures.
In March 2012, a large carcass washed up on Folly Beach in South Carolina. Area residents were puzzled by the massive carcass and there was much talk of the discovery of a ‘sea monster’. The animal was soon identified by a local veterinarian from the South Carolina Aquarium as an Atlantic sturgeon.
Sturgeon have survived for over 100 million years. An individual fish can live to be over 60 years of age. Let’s hope this modern monster can survive the ravages of man.