White Sturgeon

A five year-old sturgeon from the Columbia River

The white sturgeon (Acipenser transmontanus) is red listed (endangered) in British Columbia, and is found in several major watersheds. It is the largest freshwater fish in Canada, sometimes reaching 6 m in length. Distinguishing traits include its long snout, whisker-like barbels, toothless mouth, five rows of bony scutes and flat belly. The fish are long lived and can reach ages of 100 years.


Biodiversity Interactive Map - White Sturgeon


  • White Sturgeon are distributed along the west coast of North America, but are found primarily in 3 major drainages including the Sacramento (in California), Columbia (in British Columbia, Idaho and Washington) and Fraser systems (in British Columbia).
  • In British Columbia, spawning populations of white sturgeon occur in three rivers: the Fraser/Nechako, Columbia and Kootenay.
  • In the Columbia Basin they are distributed in the Lower Columbia River to the Revelstoke Dam (including Arrow Lakes), Lower Kootenay River to Brilliant Dam, Kootenay River above Bonnington Dam to Libby Dam (including Kootenay Lake).


Most commonly found in large, cool, fluvial environments (river), but some populations are also found in larger lakes.


  • Spawning occurs in rivers in early-to-mid summer as water flows increase and water temperatures increase above 14 degrees Celsius.
  • Potential pre-spawning individuals moved to the spawning area between mid-June and July.
  • It is believed that fast flowing water and larger substrate are key habitat attributes for spawning.
  • Females deposit a large number of eggs during spawning (100,000- 1,000,000) and these eggs remain on the bottom until hatching (5-10 days).

Listing and Date

Listing Date
B.C. List Red
COSEWIC Endangered; schedule 1 Nov. 2003
SARA S1 Aug. 2006

Threats to Species

  • Changes in the environment
  • Overfishing
  • Human activities (dam constructions, water contamination and flow regulation)

Select Reports

For more information on this species, visit The Species at Risk Public Registry and/or The BC Species and Ecosystem Explorer where you should enter "white sturgeon" in the species Name field.



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