Skip to comments.Video: Giant Prehistoric Fish Rebounding in Canada
Posted on 12/06/2008 2:39:35 AM PST by JoeProBono
When dozens of white sturgeon began washing up dead on the banks of British Columbia's Fraser River in the mid-1990s, some feared that North America's largest freshwater fish could be headed toward extinction. Once plentiful in the river, the sturgeon population had dropped below 40,000, and scientists were unable to explain the die-offs of mostly female fish. That's when an alliance of government agencies, environmentalists, aboriginal groups, and commercial and recreational fishers came together to save the sturgeon, spurring a robust recovery of the lower Fraser River population.
To Zeb Hogan, who leads National Geographic's Megafishes Project and has studied the sturgeon, it's a rare success story. (Learn about the world's gargantuan freshwater fish.)
"Worldwide, most species of large freshwater fish are in danger of going extinct in the near future," said Hogan, a National Geographic emerging explorer. (The National Geographic Society operates National Geographic News.)
"The white sturgeon seems to have avoided the fate of species like the Chinese paddlefish of the Yangtze River and the critically endangered giant catfish of the Mekong River."
My flipper is almost that big!
(at least I heard rumors...)
You ever see the Fraser river?
I saw it coming across BC in 79.
Any fish that can survive in that river got bigger stones than me!
We’re not talkin nice, American domesticated rivers here.
Makes the Colorado look like a mud puddle!
Sturgeon are magnificent creatures. Huge and reptilian-looking. Prehistoric would be the right word. They live in the muddy Fraser River, not far from where I grew up.
I saw only one, once, when I was nineteen. I was out in Mission, BC, sitting on a dock, minding my own business, feeding the ducks the crusts of a leftover samwich. It was a beautiful summer day...
Suddenly, the ducks swam out of the way, then flew off. There was a wake in the murky, still water making its way slowly toward me. So I watched.
Eventually the wake got close enough to the dock (and me) for me to see what was going on.
It was a large butt-ugly fish-face: the most improbable looking face, just under the water. And it was attached to a huge, long body that just sorta disappeared behind it. I have no idea how long it was, but it was long.
The fish swam lazily under the dock. I didn’t see it emerge out the other side, but perhaps it went deeper into the mud.
That was definitely something to see. Unforgettable.
Any wuss can ride a raft in the parts that ain’t vertical!!
I messed once in an inner tube against a cat 5 here in Washington.
After the third or fourth or twelfth time it turned me end over end, with no complimentary oxygen, my head came up and I’m still here.
Nice fish tale. Thanks!
I knew I was going to love this post: more photos of any kind, please!
> Were not talkin nice, American domesticated rivers here.
> Makes the Colorado look like a mud puddle!
The Fraser’s quite something going thru the West Coast mountain range, ay! And it gets squeezed thru a narrow gap called “Hell’s Gate” just before you get to Hope BC. There’s a gondola at Hell’s Gate that you can ride in, it crosses the Fraser and it’s really something to see!
Once the Fraser gets to Chilliwack it spreads out and slows right down. By Mission it is at a crawl, and by New Westminster you can just barely detect it moving. Then it breaks up into a delta known (sensibly) as the Fraser River Delta.
11 feet 4 inches of sturgeon
Thanks for the pix. Meanwhile: goo-goo-ca-choo, I am The Walrus!
(Sorry the link’s from HP)
Hells gate is part of what I’m talking about.
We came west from Northern Mich in Canada, first time I saw the Rockies was east of Calgary.
Then we headed north for a while, and made it to 100 Mile house or so, the whole area was stunning, Kamloops, all of it!
And the Canadian ladies having more curves than the geography!
There was this blonde in Ravelstoke.......
> Nice fish tale. Thanks!
Cheers! You’re welcome.
Speaking of “fish stories” and Sturgeon, I heard a tale once from a fishing guide when I lived in BC. I DO NOT ATTEST TO ITS VERACITY but it does make an entertaining story. Please suspend your disbelief:
Apparently, Sturgeons are fairly dumb animals: this makes sense because they’re almost prehistoric. The Haida Indians knew this — they were West Coast indians who lived not far from the Fraser River. And they saw the Sturgeon fish as being a source of perpetual food.
So what they’d do is they’d catch a sturgeon by trapping it in shallow water: say three-to-six inches. Then some of the indians would keep the fish wet, while one of them would cut a three-sided flap of skin into the side of the fish.
They would then carge out of the fish a large hunk of meat, under the flap. The fish was so dumb it wouldn’t even notice, apparently. It would just sit there Duuuh and pay no attention.
Then the indians would sew the flap shut with grass, and then dig the fish out of the shallow water by trench into the deep water where it could swim away.
After a while, the flap would heal shut and the meat would grow back! And the indians would then catch it again later, and cut another flap and harvest another hunk of meat, then sew it shut — and this would go on ad-infinitum.
And that is why — I was told — some of the larger sturgeon have scars on their back and sides that look a bit like a patchwork quilt. Because that’s exactly what it is.
I would be interested if anyone else has heard something like that, and especially if it can be verified.
That’s an amazing part of the world: that would have been a great trip!
The drive along the Fraser Canyon is breathtaking: pretty dangerous tho’ (or at least it was when I last drove it decades ago) because it was narrow and winding, with sheer drop-offs if you get the turn wrong...
Sadly, these days most people traveling to Kamloops and beyond take the Coquihalla Hiway, constructed in the mid-eighties. It’s fast and straight and sacrifices scenery for safety and speed.
(This thread has made me a bit homesick...!)
I’ve bookmarked this great thread.
Thanks for the memories, Joe!
You’ll get back there.
NZ ain’t nothin to sneeze about either!
Funny thing was I grew up in NY and had dreams about the mountains.
Left New York, me and a buddy hitched out to Washington.
About a year later, me and a lady friend went east on I-90 into the cascades, the first time I ever saw that part.
It matched my dream.
I could even drive you to the same point now.
Kinda sad that life is such a tease!
(and so was she)
lmao, I can always count on you for a great photo comeback, thanks !
> Youll get back there.
> NZ aint nothin to sneeze about either!
(big grin!!) I hope to get back there, one day. Haven’t managed to so far: closest I got was Honolulu.
I am lucky to live in NZ, which I guess is home now. When I talk to Canadians over the phone, they say I sound like a Kiwi. When I talk to Kiwis, they say I sound like an “American” (I take that as a compliment...)
Washington State is a beautiful part of the US, particularly that bit out that looks across the water toward the San Juans. I had a girlfriend in Seattle once-upon-a-time. She was a Kiwi, studying music at the University of Washington...
Brings new meaning to the phrase, "He's sleeping with the fishes".
This goes back to the 1960âs, back then & perhaps even today, sturgeon were being fished in northern Quebec for their roe, i.e., caviar. Knew a man that made a reasonably good living doing this, among other things, and periodically during the spring, summer & fall drove shipments in a temperature control truck down to a customer in Brooklyn, NY.
What a lovely story.
Your wife is Canadian?
I’m sorry, I forgot to look.