Under a nearly cloudless autumn sky, we recently joined members of the community to reintroduce more than 600 juvenile Lake Sturgeon to the Tennessee River! These babies are the offspring of wild-spawning sturgeon in Wisconsin and were raised to a releasable size over the summer by biologists at the Tennessee Aquarium Conservation Institute.
A living fossil, the Lake Sturgeon has been swimming through Earth’s river systems since the age of the dinosaurs. Now, they are listed as an endangered species in Tennessee, from which they had disappeared as recently as the 1970s due to overfishing, poor water quality and damming of their rivers.
In 1998, the Aquarium helped to found the Lake Sturgeon Working Group in hopes of re-establishing the Lake Sturgeon in the Tennessee River (and later Cumberland River). Since releasing the first class of Lake Sturgeon in 2000, more than a third of a million of these tiny, river-giants-in-waiting have been returned to their ancestral waters.