YAC in the Schools – Fall 2016 by John Toone
Day two at George Waters Elementary School and another enthusiastic class of Grade 8 students. Their haul of fish this summer included walleye, pike, carp, and bullhead.
I used my favourite trick again to illustrate the amazing size of lake sturgeon. I start by asking how big is a big lake sturgeon, and the usual answer is about the size of their desk. Then I say that the Manitoba record for lake sturgeon caught fishing was 78.5 inches. This is usually met with blank stares that often turn to shock, as I pull the measuring tape across their desks to about 6.5 feet. Then I keep going to show the 15.5 foot length of the largest lake sturgeon recorded in Manitoba. And for fun, I keep extending the measuring tape to 24 feet long to give them perspective of the record beluga sturgeon.
After the theatrics, we had a good talk about the practices around the turn of the century that contributed to the collapse of the lake sturgeon fishery. We learned about the spawning behaviours of lake sturgeon and the reasons why their recovery has taken so long. We also talked about the ongoing research on lake sturgeon because of their endangered status.