Field Notes
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
Field Notes Entry   
Unique shovelnose sturgeon captured
Midwest Region, July 15, 2007
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A unique, pale-colored shovelnose sturgeon was captured by the Columbia Fish and Wildlife Conservation Office 

Two shovelnose sturgeon captured near Napoleon MO while sampling for HAMP in 2007

during Habitat Assessment and Monitoring project (HAMP) sampling in July 2007.   While the coloration of this fish was much like that of the endangered pallid sturgeon, other physical features indicate that it was indeed a common shovelnose sturgeon.  The features that distinguish it as a shovelnose include scutes (“scales”) on the belly, a short broad head and barbells that are similar in length and originate in a straight line.  Biologist Andy Plauck of Columbia NFWCO captured a similar looking fish while conducting winter gillnetting on the Missouri River near Columbia. Although these fish are quite pale or white in color, they are not albino. Unlike true albinos, which lack any pigmentation and will have pink or very lightly colored eyes, these pale shovelnose sturgeons have dark eye pigmentation. Like other animals, some of these fish bear traces of color, meaning their melanin production is abnormal but not entirely absent.  Other fish with abnormal melanin (pigment) production have been captured in the Lower Missouri river including several blue catfish.  Albinism and other abnormal pigment conditions are normally rare in wild populations. Caviar from albino old world sturgeon is known as Golden Caviar (not to be confused with American golden or white fish caviar) due to its color and is very rare and highly prized.

Contact Info: Larry Dean, 612-713-5312, Larry_Dean@fws.gov
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