Great Lakes dinosaur

Whoa,not really. But the lake sturgeon dates back to the era of the dinosaurs, roughly 10,000 years ago. They have survived virtually every adversary and challenge thrown their way over this time except for one. Man. Of course, leave it to us to ruin something else good. Commercial fishing is the culprit as they recognized the lake sturgeon as merely a pest due to destruction of fishing equipment for other species. So they overfished the hell out of them and harvested millions upon millions of pounds in the first half of the last century.

There is no official estimate of the current population throughout the great lakes, however it is estimated to be roughly 150,000 today. This is about one percent of their maximum population previously. Michigan has between 15,000 to 20,000 black bears. Coming in contact with one is rare depending on your location. Well, actually seeing a live lake sturgeon is a far more infrequent occurrence despite their greater numbers. Ask a fisherman and they will likely be beside themselves with excitement merely to have seen one.

They can live beyond 100 years old and can exceed 8 feet in length and weigh up to 300 pounds. I can hear the NBA calling right now! They are just a way cool fish to look at and are actually quite docile. To their detriment, they are not afraid of the human touch. They basically vacuum up their food, which is mainly bottom feeders like crayfish and even insect larvae. They don’t breed until they reach their 20’s and even then only about every 4 years. Gosh, our teenagers today could learn a thing or two here, couldn’t they?

They remain a heavily protected species endangered in 19 of the 20 states they reside in. There are a few bright spots recently with spawning successes in some areas. Wisconsin’s Lake Winnebago has returned to it’s 1800 population numbers of about 40,000 fish. You can find multiple citizens groups who volunteer to observe and report poaching. Since they live near shore in roughly 15-30 feet of water and travel inland upstream to spawn, they are quite easy targets for illegal poachers. This is just another example of the abundance of natural wonders we are blessed with here in the great state of Michigan.