May 13, 2011 6:20 pm

Pallid Sturgeon: Endangered Missouri River Fish

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Pallid Sturgeon of the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers

We are blessed with an abundance of fish species in the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers near St. Louis MO.  The pallid sturgeon (Scaphirhynchus albus) is unfortunately on the federal endangered species list. Habitat loss and water pollution coupled with slow maturation and reproduction have put this amazing Missouri treasure at risk.

The endangered sturgeon recovery priority area includes the Missouri River right past Labadie.  In fact, the largest population of existing pallid sturgeon have been identified in the upper Mississippi River just below St. Louis (National Paddelfish and Sturgeon Steering Committee 1993).  The Missouri River forms the confluence with the Mississippi about 35 miles downstream.

There are very few historical records of river fish in our stretch of the Missouri.  Pickney Bend, Berger Bend, Bates Island Complex, Dubois Creek, Boles Bend, Dunn Spring Creek,Volkerding Island Vicinity and Hinkles Bend…all adjacent to Franklin County have no historical records.  Marthasville Bend and St. John’s Island have reported both sturgeon and sicklefin.  It is logical to think that populations of sturgeon have been on this stretch of river given the criteria for healthy habitats.  It is known that pallid sturgeon spawn in late April and early May in the Lower Missouri (including our neck of the woods) and Middle Mississippi.  So the lower Missouri is important to this endangered species reproduction.

The slow maturation and reproduction of the endangered sturgeon makes it so vulnerable to habitat destruction and water pollution.  Together with the equally unique and ancient paddlefish (Polyodon spathula), these amazing fish of the Lower Missouri and Upper Mississippi should be treasured and protected.  The paddlefish is on the Missouri Watch List.

Missouri River Paddlefish

Learn more about local Missouri River fish and the importance of clean water at the LEO booth at Labadie Picnic Saturday June 4th.  Fun activities for children and opportunity to learn more about LEO.  Can you name and identify the fish of the lower Missouri River? Take up the challenge.

Watch a short video on the efforts to prevent decline in the shovelnose sturgeon of the Missouri.

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