Komk-tamu, also known as the Atlantic Sturgeon, could be called the gentle giant. With their large size, weighing up to 800lbs and measuring over 4 metres in length with its shark-like appearance it could be quite alarming spotting one in the river or ocean. However, they are relatively harmless to humans preferring to munch on crustaceans, worms, and mollusks.
Atlantic Sturgeon is long living and has been found to live up to 60 years! Overall, Females tend to be larger and live longer than males. They only start to produce eggs and spawn when they reach 12 to 18 years of age, which is quite old compared to other fish species.
A critical spawning area is the Saint John River, which flows through New Brunswick, Quebec, and Maine in the United States. However, they also live in the Cumberland and Minas basins in the Inner Bay of Fundy. Like many species in the Maritimes, they are anadromous, meaning they spend time in both fresh and salt water throughout their life.
Depending on how big a female sturgeon is, she can lay anywhere from 400,000 to 8 million eggs! They spawn over boulders, bedrock, and gravel bottoms because their eggs stick to stones on the river bed. Within a week, the little Atlantic Sturgeon hatch and they stay in the estuary for about 2-5 years before following the adults out to sea.
As of May 2011, it is listed by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) as being threatened. However, it has not yet been listed as a Species at Risk. They have already been extirpated throughout European estuaries. The major threats to the Atlantic Sturgeon are the Commercial Fisheries as by-catch, over-fishing and river degradation.
Help protect these gentle giants in our rivers and oceans!
*Photo courtesy of: Fort Folly Habitat Recovery Program