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The Stealthy Sturgeon

This is not an article about Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland's First Minister, but an even more slippery beast lurking in the Detroit River.

As long as there have been bodies of water on Planet Earth, there have been imaginative tales of sea monsters and terrifying underwater creatures. This story isn't about another Frankenfish exactly. But it must have been a little perturbing for the three scientists with the US Fish and Wildlife Conservation Office in Alpena, Michigan who pulled a huge, ancient lake sturgeon out of the Detroit River last week.

It's estimated there were more than a half million of the long-lived freshwater fish swimming in the Detroit River in the 19th century. Now scientists think there are less than 7,000, largely due to overfishing and habitat destruction. So finding one that's 240 pounds, measuring nearly 7 feet long with a girth of almost 4 feet - and at least a century old - is really something.

The scientists were setting up fishing lines as part of their annual survey of the lake sturgeon population. Paige Wigren takes it from here: "All of the sudden, this gray and white shadow came to the surface, and for about 5 to 8 minutes we struggled to try to get the fish into the net." It then took the entire crew to finally get Stacey (not her real name) onto the deck of the boat. "That's when it really sunk in how large this fish was," Wigren says.

After taking a photo of Stacey Sturgeon lying next to crew member Jennifer Johnson - to show scale - scientists tagged the fish with a microchip and released her back into the river.

The photo has since gone viral. "The fact that the sturgeon has survived for so long and probably has seen way more than any of us could imagine is kind of phenomenal, and just, I think everybody loves a good ... fish story," Johnson says with a laugh. That's for sure. Everybody remembers the first time they saw Jaws.


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