Tennessee Aquarium, partners have now released more than 250,000 Lake Sturgeon into wild

Age-old wisdom claims it takes a village to raise a child. As it turns out, the same could be said of the effort to rescue a river giant.

Despite being one of the largest fish in the Tennessee River and boasting lifespans that can stretch past 150 years, the Lake Sturgeon was pushed to the brink of disappearing from the Southeast during much of the 20th century. Due to a combination of human activities, including overfishing, pollution and damming, this riverine titan had vanished from the Tennessee and Cumberland Rivers and their tributaries by the 1970s.

By 1998, changes to clean water legislation and river management practices had improved the Tennessee River as a potential habitat for sturgeon. That year, the Tennessee Aquarium helped to found the Lake Sturgeon Working Group. This umbrella group represented a host of government and non-profit organizations joining forces to restore the Lake Sturgeon to the historical waters from which it had been ousted.

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