The striking Syr Darya Shovelnose Sturgeon is endemic to the Syr Darya River, and once found in Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. It is among the smallest sturgeon species in the world, growing only up to about one foot long. It was once found in the Aral Sea, but according to NASA, the Aral Sea shrunk by more than 60% between 1973 and 2000. The Aral Sea is now hypersaline and as a result, doesn’t contain any fish, aside from in a small reservoir. The river has also experienced large levels of water extraction, damming and agricultural pollution. The sturgeon has been listed in the Red Data Book of Kazakhstan since 1978 and has also been featured on stamps.
Although a Re:wild-supported expedition team from the Tennessee Aquarium, Eurasian Regional Association of Zoos and Aquariums, and Kazakhstan Fisheries Research and Production Center was not able to rediscover the species at the end of 2018, what they did find has spurred hope that they’ll succeed on future trips.
EXPEDITION TEAM MEMBERS INCLUDE: BERNIE KUHAJDA, ALEXEY CHERNYAK