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Southern Company River Scout

Shovelnose sturgeon

Shovelnose sturgeon

(Scahirhynchus platorynchus)

The shovelnose sturgeon is now most common in the Mississippi River Basin. It also can be found in greatly reduced numbers elsewhere within in its original range, which included the Tennessee River and the Upper Rio Grande. It is thought to be extinct in the Mobile Bay drainage. Its usual habitat is along the bottoms of bays, rivers and channels, in areas with strong currents, at depths of 6 to 23 feet.

This sturgeon has a broad shovel-shaped snout and a body that tapers abruptly to a narrow tail. It is pale to medium gray or brownish in color dorsally with a white underside. Its body is covered by bony scutes instead of scales. The largest shovelnose sturgeon caught was about 3 feet in length.

See if you can spot the unique shape of the shovelnose sturgeon in the overhead river in the River Scout gallery.

Fun Facts

  • The shovelnose sturgeon feeds on aquatic insect larvae, especially those of the mayfly and caddisfly.
  • This sturgeon moves along the bottom and detects its prey using sensitive barbels located near its mouth. The prey is then vacuumed up through its extendable, tubular mouth.
  • Once considered a nuisance to fishermen, it is now prized as a valuable smoked product and its roe is sold as caviar.
  • The shovelnose sturgeon is slow to mature and is believed to live for 43 years or more.
  • Download full fact sheet

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