- Beluga (sturgeon)
name = Beluga
status = EN
status_system = iucn2.3
image_width = 200px
genus = "
species = "H. huso"
binomial = "Huso huso"
binomial_authority = (Linnaeus,
The beluga or European sturgeon ("Huso huso") is a
speciesof anadromous fishin the sturgeon family ( Acipenseridae) of order Acipenseriformes. It is found primarily in the Caspian and Black Seabasins, and occasionally in the Adriatic Sea. Heavily fished for the female's valuable roe—known as beluga caviar— the beluga is a huge (some documented specimens attain nearly 6 meters[19 feet] ), slow-growing and late-maturing fish that can live for 118 years. [ [http://www.fishbase.org/Summary/speciesSummary.php?ID=2067&genusname=Huso&speciesname=huso Huso huso.] Fishbase.com. Accessed on 11 January 2008] The species' numbers have been greatly reduced by overfishingand poaching, prompting many governments to enact restrictions on its trade.
The English name comes from the Russian белуга ("beluga") or белуха ("belukha") which derives from the word белый ("belyy"), meaning "white".
The beluga is a large
predatorwhich feeds on other fish. Beluga sturgeons are fish, entirely unrelated to mammalian beluga whales. The word derives from the Russian word for white.
The beluga travels up
riversto spawn, as do many sturgeons. In this manner sturgeons are sometimes likened to seafish, though most scientists still consider them river fish.
Unconfirmed reports suggest that belugas may reach a length of up to 8.6 m (28 ft) and weigh as much as 2,700
kilograms(5,940 lbs), making them the largest freshwaterfish in the world, larger even than the Mekong giant catfishor the pirarucu. At this mass, the beluga would be even heavier than the ocean sunfish, generally recognized as the largest of bony fishes. But the largest generally accepted record is of the female taken in 1827 in the Volgaestuary at 1,476 kg (3,249 lbs) and 7.2 m (24 ft). [Wood, The Guinness Book of Animal Facts and Feats. Sterling Pub Co Inc (1983), ISBN 978-0851122359] Nevertheless, some scientists still consider the Mekong giant catfish to be the largest freshwater fish, owing to sturgeons' ability to survive in seawater.
Beluga caviar is considered a delicacy worldwide. The meat of the beluga, on the other hand, is not particularly renowned. Beluga caviar has long been scarce and expensive, but the endangered status of the fish has made its caviar more expensive than before. (See
IUCNclassifies the beluga as Endangered. It is a protected species listed in appendix III of the Bern Convention and its trade is restricted under CITESappendix II. The Mediterranean population is strongly protected under appendix II of the Bern Convention, prohibiting any intentional killing of these fish.
United States Fish and Wildlife Servicehas banned imports of Beluga Caviar and other beluga products from the Caspian Sea since October 6, 2005.
* Listed as Endangered (EN A2d v2.3)
* [http://conventions.coe.int/treaty/FR/Treaties/Html/104-2.htm Annex II of the Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Naturaabitats] . Revised
1 March 2002.
*Redlist|ID=10269|taxon=Huso huso|assessor=IUCN Sturgeon Specialist Group.|year=2004
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