(Acipenser stellatus), an anadro-mous fish of the family Acipenseridae. The body reaches a length of 220 cm and a weight of 68 kg. The stellate sturgeon is covered with five rows of bony scutes; on the fish’s sides there are star-shaped plates between the scutes. The snout, unlike that of other sturgeons, is extremely elongated and flat. The barbels are short.
The stellate sturgeon lives in the basins of the Caspian Sea, the Black Sea, and the Sea of Azov. The fish forms local runs. Spawning occurs in rivers from April through September. In large rivers the fish travels 200-600 km from the mouth, and in small mountain rivers 30–60 km. Between 20,000 and 363,000 roe are deposited on gravelly ground; the roe stick to the rocks. The fry descend into the Caspian Sea from the Volga at two to three months of age and from the Kura immediately after hatching. The adult individual makes lengthy migrations for food. In summer it remains in shallow water, and in autumn and winter it stays at depths to 100 m. The stellate sturgeon feeds on invertebrates and fish. Sexual maturity is attained at different times in different bodies of water. Males reach maturity at five to 13 years of age, and females at ten to 17 years.
The stellate sturgeon has great commercial value. The flesh and roe are a delicacy. The notochord is used to make dried spinal chord, and the swim bladder is used in glue production. Supplies of the fish are maintained through artificial breeding. Hybrids of stellate sturgeon with sturgeon, sterlet, and ship sturgeon (Acipenser nudiventris) are known.
REFERENCESBerg, L. S. Ryby presnykh vod SSSR i sopredel’nykh stran, 4th ed., part 1. Moscow-Leningrad, 1948.
Nikol’skii, G. V. Chastnaia ikhtiologiia, 3rd ed. Moscow, 1971.
N. N. SAFONOV