With a common length of 2-3 ½ meters (7-12 feet) and certain species reaching over 5.5 m (18 ft) in size, the Sturgeon has been compared to the Biblical giant beast Leviathan. They have also been likened to the aged Methuselah for their incredibly lengthy life spans.
From the genus Acipenser, the Lake Sturgeon (Acipenser fulvescens) thrives in the temperate waters of North America. With a lifespan exceeding 100 years, it can grow to more than 3 m (9 ft) in length and weigh above 100 kilograms (200 pounds). The Russian Sturgeon (Acipenser gueldenstaedtii) naturally hails from Russia, but it can also be found in Romania, Bulgaria, Ukraine, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, Turkey and Iran. It can grow to a length of 6 ft and a weight of nearly 250 lbs.
With a length of 210 centimeters (7 ft) and a weight of about 159 kg (350 lbs), the Green Sturgeon (Acipenser medirostris) is one of 2 sturgeon species found in California. The other one is the White Sturgeon (Acipenser transmontanus), which can grow up to 6.1 m (20.1 ft) in length and 816 kg (1,798 lbs) in weight, and has a life span of more than 100 years.
The Atlantic Sturgeon (Acipenser oxyrhynchus oxyrhynchus), a species that is unfortunately under threat of extinction, can live up to 60 years, reach a length of 15 ft and weigh above 800 lbs. Likewise endangered is the Gulf Sturgeon (Acipenser oxyrhynchus desotoi), which is externally similar to the Atlantic sturgeon and can only be distinguished through their spleen length. The Atlantic sturgeon’s spleen length averages only 5.7% of its fork length, while the Gulf sturgeon’s averages 12.3% of its fork length.
Common in Europe and the UK, the Sterlet (Acipenser ruthenus) is notably smaller than most species, growing to only 100-125 cm (rarely growing past 3 ft) and weighing 16 kg. It also has a considerably short lifespan of 22-25 years. Meanwhile, the Chinese Sturgeon (Acipenser sinensis) is considered as a “living fossil,” believed to have been around as a species for 140,000,000 years. The 3rd largest next to the White and Atlantic sturgeons, it ranges in size from 200-500 cm and weighs on average from 200-500 kg.
With a reported life expectancy of 27 years, the Starry Sturgeon (Acipenser stellatus) can achieve a length of 220 cm (more than 7 ft) and a weight of 80 kg (roughly 180 lbs). The European Sea Sturgeon has a life span of 40 years, a common length of 1-2 m (3.3-6.6 ft) and weighs an approximate average of 150 kg (330 lbs). Also known as the Atlantic sturgeon, it is not to be confused with that other similarly-named species, although both of them have been placed on the endangered species list.
A European sturgeon also exists in the genus Huso, but it can be properly referred to as the Beluga (Huso huso), derived from the Russian word for “white.” Purported to be the world’s largest freshwater fish, the Beluga is thought to grow up to a length of 8.6 m (28 ft), weigh as heavy as 2,700 kg (5,940 lbs) and live as long as 118 years. Another contender to the “world’s largest” record is the River Beluga or Kaluga (Huso dauricus), which grows no less than 5.6 m (18.6 ft) and weighs 5.6 m (18.6 ft).
Though celebrated for their immense sizes and unusually long lives, a number of sturgeon species nonetheless face extinction due to pollution and over-fishing. If measures aren’t taken to preserve them, they may as well fade into legend just like the Biblical figures they are identified with.