Re: NANFA-- Giant sturgeon ?

Christopher Scharpf (
Wed, 26 Jun 2002 15:51:45 GMT

> State Senate OKs refuge for Arkansas river monsters on the White River
> Giant catfish ? This is an interesting and fun read .

An item on the White River Monster appeared in Amercian Currents a few
years ago. According to Jan Hoover and Jack Killgore, both research
biologists at the Waterways Experiment Station in Vicksburg, Miss. (and
NANFA members), the "monster" is either a paddlefish, a sturgeon, or a
group of both.

“Paddlefish are very sharklike, nearly scaleless, gray, with a rostrum that
can be pointy,” Hoover said. “We are studying rostrum shape and have
found that the paddle gets shorter, straighter and narrower as the fish
grows, hence, it would look like a horn on a very large [fish].”

Hoover adds that the foaming of the water, and the reported sizes of the
monster, may be the result of large numbers of paddlefish basking at the
surface, a common behavior. “Sturgeon are less likely to surface than
paddlefish,” Hoover said, “but sick, injured, stressed or dying fish may do
so.” In addition, paddlefish are known to leap out of the water and land on
their sides with great force. No one knows why. One theory is that they’re
trying to dislodge parasitic lampreys. With smooth bodies, paddlefish are
a key food source for lampreys of the genus Ichthyomyzon.

The fact that paddlefish and sturgeon are infrequently taken by anglers,
combined with the normally turbid waters of the White, may explain why
such large fishes remain so mysterious. The declining populations of
paddlefish and sturgeon may contribute to the mystery as well, for the
White River monster has not been reported seen since 1971.

Chris Scharpf
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