Alabama sturgeon on the brink of extinction

TUSCALOOSA NEWS

TUSCALOOSA | More than 675 fish species are found in the Southeastern U.S., but a quarter of the area’s species are considered imperiled.

To try to prevent some fish from becoming extinct, scientists from the Southeastern Fishes Council have identified twelve fish in the region that are most at risk for extinction.

One of them, the Alabama sturgeon, used to swim freely along the southern parts of the Black Warrior River and the Tombigbee. The fish once swam more than 1,000 river miles of the Mobile Basin in Alabama and Mississippi. In 1898 records estimated that 19,000 Alabama sturgeon were commercially harvested.

But now it could disappear completely within a few years.

The last Alabama sturgeon was found in the wild in April 2007. It was one of only two specimens of the species found in the last nine years, both in the Alabama River.

The one found last year was tagged with a sonic tracker.

“Alabama Conservation Resources is still following it around, so we know it’s still alive,” said Bernie Kuhajda, a fish biologist with the University of Alabama’s Biological Sciences Division who has been studying the Alabama sturgeon for the last 15 years.

The Alabama sturgeon is one of the rarest invertebrates in North America, Kuhajda added. The fish has existed for around 75 million years.

But the species was hurt by construction of dams on Alabama Rivers.

“It’s so rare because of the dams,” Kuhajda said. “They stopped the migration of the sturgeon upstream and impaired the development of the larval sturgeons.”

Kuhajda hopes that by being listed as one of the “desperate dozen,” it might spur efforts to save the fish.

For the full story, read Thursday’s Tuscaloosa News.

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under biodiversity, environment, extinction, nature, wildlife, zoology

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s