CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (WATE) — A group of students will join scientists from the Tennessee Aquarium Conservation Institute to release a group of juvenile Lake Sturgeon into the Tennessee River.
Thirty students from Ivy Academy will release the fish into a section of the TN river by Coolidge Park on Friday, Oct. 7 beginning at 11 a.m.
According to the aquarium, Lake Sturgeon have existed since the Cretaceous Period. It earned the distinction of a “living fossil” as it has remained largely unchanged.
The river fish can reach lengths of nine feet and weigh in excess of 300 pounds. However, by the 1970s it had all but disappeared from the Tennessee River. The aquarium said the disappearance was due to poor water quality, damming and over-fishing. The fish is listed as an endangered species in Tennessee.
In 1998, the Tennessee Aquarium, U.S. Fish and Wildlife, and Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency formed the Lake Sturgeon Working Group. Since then, the group has released more than 330,000 Lake Sturgeon into the Tennessee and Cumberland rivers. The majority of the releases, like this one, are open to the public.
The aquarium added that the students participating in the release may be long outlived by these fish, which can live for 150 years.