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May 19, 2012

A sextet of endangered and critically endangered sturgeon have been given a new home at the Blue Planet Aquarium in Cheshire Oaks.

The two Russian and four Siberian sturgeon, all measuring around 60 centimetres in length, are the latest additions to the aquarium’s extensive Northern Streams display

The fish, which are in danger of becoming extinct in the wild, can live to be more than 60 years old and weigh up to 65kgs. The largest recorded specimen tipped the scales at a massive 210kgs.

Blue Planet Aquarium’s Zoological Manager, Colin Grist, said: “Sturgeon are one of the oldest types of fish on the planet. They first appeared in the fossil record around 200 million years ago and have remained relatively unchanged ever since.

“With their bony plates and large size they are certainly one of the most unusual looking fish here at the aquarium and, due to their endangered status, we had to obtain a special licence to put them on display,” he added.

Russian sturgeon are now officially classed as Critically Endangered on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species.

Critically Endangered means that a species’ numbers have decreased, or will decrease, by 80% within three generations.

The Siberian sturgeon is classed as Endangered which means it is at risk of extinction in the wild.

Both Russia and Siberian sturgeon have been in steep decline in the wild due to habitat loss, degradation and poaching. Up to 40% of the fish’s spawning habitat has been made inaccessible by damming.

While wild catches of sturgeon have been generally declining, the fish is increasingly both for meat and to produce caviar from its roe. The main producer of sturgeon caviar is France, while the largest meat producers are Russia and China.