Descriptions: Line 1
Gulf Sturgeon ( Acipenser oxyrhincus)
The Gulf sturgeon is a species that occurs throughout the Gulf of Mexico and the eastern Atlantic.It is a remnant of an ancient group of fishes that dates back to the age the dinosaurs.The Gulf sturgeon grows very large, reaching lengths of greater than 8 feet and weighing more than 200 pounds.It is an anadromous species that reproduces in freshwater and spends much of its life in the marine environment.Gulf sturgeon do not reach reproductive maturity until they are between 8 and 12 years of age.Gulf sturgeon possess whiskers called barbels and a ventrally placed mouth which they use to detect and suction small invertebrates from the bottom sediments.Their bodies are covered by a heavy set of armored plates called scutes.The Gulf sturgeon is rare in the Lake Pontchartrain Basin.
Paddlefish ( Polyodon spathula)
The paddlefish is also a remnant of a very ancient group of fishes that now consists of only two species, one in North America and another species in China.The fossil record indicates that paddlefish appeared in the fossil record 50 million years before the dinosaurs.Paddlefish occur in freshwater rivers throughout eastern North America.They reach lengths of 5 feet or more and adults can weigh more than 60 pounds.Paddlefish possess a deeply forked tail, a scaleless body, and paddle shaped snout called a rostrum.The function or adaptive significance of the paddle is unknown.Paddlefish are filter feeders.The primarily feed on zooplankton (small floating invertebrates) by opening their large mouths and swimming, and using their gill rakers to filter zooplankton from the water column.Paddlefish are endangered or threatened in many states and are therefore protected.Historically paddlefish have been harvested for their caviar.
Alligator Gar ( Atractosteus spatula)
The alligator gar is one of the largest species of freshwater fishes in North America.There are seven gar species in North and Central America, and the alligator gar is the largest, reaching lengths of greater than 9 feet and almost 300 pounds.Alligator gars possess a heavily armored body covered with diamond shaped ganoid scales.They possess a wide snout and two rows of teeth in the upper jaw, which separate them from the others species of gar.Juvenile alligator garhave pigmentation patterns that are slightly different than the adults. Alligator gar are major predators and feed on other species of fish and crabs; however, there are records of alligator gar feeding on birds, including various species of ducks.Alligator gars are often caught by anglers and in some areas are harvested commercially.The eggs of alligator gar are toxic, but the flesh is edible.