Photo by Jessy Dou. Used with permission.


Public Domain. Used with permission.

Beluga sturgeon have a number of adaptations that make them highly equipped to survive in the wild. One of the most prominent adaptations is the sturgeon's massive size. H. huso, a fish that can grow to be 5 meters in length and weighing up to 1.5 tons, is the largest freshwater fish on the planet. (Hudson, 2003) This large size leads the beluga sturgeon to be a predator to many smaller fishes and allows it to truly hold its ground against any other predator that tries to overpower the sturgeon.

Another adaptation that allows Huso huso to be dominant in nature is the feathered ends to the barbels that extend of the bottom of the snout. This feathered morphology increases the surface area that the sturgeon uses to taste and smell. Having an increased area to sense potential prey leaves the fish with a higher sensitivity for finding a future meal.

An adaptation that aids in food acquisition is the color of the beluga. The color of the beluga sturgeon is dark grey, or green dorsally while the underside tends to be a lighter grey or white. This color configuration allows the fish to be relatively unseen by fish swimming above the sturgeon as well as those swimming below. The dark color effectively blends in with the abyssal bottom of the sea and the white or light grey blends in with the lightened color of the surface above. This camouflage aids in the surprise attack necessary to find a meal.

Five rows of bony scutes (or plates) act as a support sturcutre for the sturgeon and also aid in protection. H. huso is protected by a single row of bony scutes that span the length of the fish dorsally, a row on each side, and two rows of bony plates spanning the underside. (Hudson, 2003

Even though this species has many adaptations to help them defend and protect themselves against other natural predators, no adaptation can keep them from the ultimate predator, humans. No amount of defense and protection can stop the effects that humans have on some species of wildlife. In order to learn more about the threats posed against this prehistoric animal, and the conservation efforts that are in place to save them, explore the
threats page!

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