Prehistoric Creature of the North Saskatchewan River

The North Saskatchewan River is home to a wide diversity of fascinating creatures. Some are feathered, some are furry, and some are scaly. One of the most interesting of these creatures has been on Earth for at least 100 million years. This animal existed while dinosaurs were still walking the planet. This creature is known as a living fossil, since it has lived for many Eras relatively unchanged, while its relatives have gone extinct. They can reach 2 meters in length and 90 kg in weight. Also, these species can live for up to 150 years! This creature is: Lake Sturgeon.

 

These fish are recognizable by their shark-like tail, their thick skin with armour-like plates (called scutes), and their barbels that hang down like a moustache in front of their retractable mouth. Sturgeon are bottom feeders, meaning that they feed on creatures on the bottom of the lakes and rivers in which they live. Their barbels are used to detect food, which they suck up with their toothless mouth, which is located under their head. They mainly feed on small fish, insect larvae, mollusks, crayfish, and fish eggs.

@Tomas Tuma

 

Sturgeon are famous for their expensive eggs, which are considered a delicacy, known as caviar. Lake sturgeon caviar is not as desirable as the beluga, osetra, and sevgura species of sturgeon which live in the Caspian Sea, the Black Sea, and the Sea of Azov. These species are all Critically Endangered on the IUCN Red list. Female sturgeon reach sexual maturity after 14-33 years, and are killed for their caviar, often illegally. While their caviar is not as consumed as other sturgeon species, the lake sturgeon’s eggs and meat were overexploited in the 1800s. Today, they are considered Threatened under Alberta’s Wildlife Act and At Risk under the General Status of Alberta Wild Species report. Sturgeon are also threatened by dams, habitat degradation, contaminants, deformations, destruction of spawning grounds, and invasive species. The populations of lake sturgeon are endangered in the North and South Saskatchewan Rivers, but the populations are on the rise due to habitat management and fishing regulation. In the North Saskatchewan River, Lake Sturgeon are a catch and release species for sport fishing. There are many locations in Edmonton along the river that anglers report catching sturgeon, including Dawson Park (a known sturgeon spawning location) and Rundle Park.

USFWS Midwest Region – Flickr

 

It can be quite surprising to learn about what lives within the river. Sturgeon are incredible creatures that capture the imaginations of anglers, conservationists, and people of all walks of life. In the news we hear about endangered species going extinct almost every day. Extinction rates on our planet are occurring 1,000 to 10,000 faster than natural extinction rates. It is rare yet affirming that lake sturgeon, which had almost been wiped out of the North Saskatchewan River, are increasing in both population and size. As they grow, this indicates that they are living longer since they never stop growing during their lives. We may not be able to bring dinosaurs back, but with hard work in conservation we can maintain these prehistoric creature’s presence on Earth.

Sources

 

Alberta Sustainable Resource Development. 2002. Status of the Lake Sturgeon (Acipenser fulvescens) in Alberta. Alberta Sustainable Resource Development, Fish and Wildlife Division, and Alberta Conservation Association, Wildlife Status Report No. 46, Edmonton, AB. 30pp.

Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada. “Lake Sturgeon (Saskatchewan River).” Government of Canada, Fisheries and Oceans Statistical Services, 2006, dfo-mpo.gc.ca/species-especes/profiles-profils/sturgeon2-esturgeon-eng.html.

 

Dove, Laurie L. “How Caviar Works.” HowStuffWorks Science, HowStuffWorks, 8 Mar. 2018, science.howstuffworks.com/innovation/edible-innovations/caviar1.htm.

 

Grant, Travis. “Here Be Sturgeons: Fishing in Edmonton.” Vue Weekly, 27 June 2018, www.vueweekly.com/here-be-sturgeons-fishing-in-edmonton/.

 

“Lake Sturgeon (Acipenser Fulvescens).” South Saskatchewan River Basin Water Information | AEP – Environment and Parks, aep.alberta.ca/fish-wildlife/wild-species/fish/sturgeons/lake-sturgeon/lake-sturgeon.aspx.

 

Snowdon, Wallis. “Big Fish Story: Sturgeon Make a Comeback in North Saskatchewan River | CBC News.” CBCnews, CBC/Radio Canada, 24 June 2016, www.cbc.ca/news/canada/edmonton/sturgeon-north-saskatchewan-river-comeback-1.3649674.

 

“Sturgeon.” WWF, wwf.panda.org/knowledge_hub/endangered_species/sturgeon/.

 

“The Extinction Crisis.” Centre for Biological Diversity, www.biologicaldiversity.org/programs/biodiversity/elements_of_biodiversity/extinction_crisis/.

 

Featured image: USFWS Midwest Region – Flickr

 

Water Footprint: What is it and what steps can we take to reduce it?

Posted in: Water | 0

In Canada, we are very lucky to have a vast supply of freshwater. We have 20% of the world’s freshwater, and in our daily lives that supply can feel limitless. This great fortune isn’t held by everyone in the world, or even everyone in Canada. Across Canada there are over 1000 drinking water advisories today! I am very glad that this morning I was able to make coffee, brush my teeth, and take a shower. I did all of this without worrying that I might run out of water, or that my water might not be safe to use. Since I’m so grateful for my clean and safe tap water, I began to consider how I use water and how much water I use every day. It’s easy to take our supply of water for granted. Sometimes it’s worthwhile to pause and reflect upon how we use water, how much water we use, and how we can take care of water.

 

Canadians use a lot of water, an average of 329L every day. The only country that uses more water per capita than Canada is the United States. But how do we use so much water? 65% of our water usage is in the bathroom. The amount of water used varies from bathroom to bathroom, depending the efficiency of the toilet, sink, shower, and tub. Toilets use anywhere between 4 to 26L of water per flush, an 8 minute shower uses an average of 76L, and a full bath can use over 150L. Other everyday activities that use a lot of water are laundry (53-170L) and dishwashing (11-100L). I try to conserve water through my habits of taking quick showers, filling up my sink to reuse water for dishwashing, and only doing full loads of laundry. There are also ways that I can conserve more water through simple actions like fixing my leaky faucet, taking less baths, and investing in water-efficient appliances. However, the fact remains that I need water in my daily life, and my water footprint is made up of more components than the water that I consume directly.

 

A water footprint is the total quantity of water consumed by a person, including the amount needed to produce the goods and services consumed. So the amount of water that we use is not just the water it takes to brush our teeth or wash our dishes, but the amount of water that it takes to make the things that we eat and buy. For example, one pair of jeans can take over 10,000L of water to make when you factor in the water used to grow the cotton, to make the dyes, and to wash them! Another example is the water it takes to make our food, a pound of beef can take 6,991L, a pound of tofu can take 1,143L, and a pound of almonds can take 7,302L. These quantities may seem overwhelming. Comparatively we drink a minuscule amount of water: only 2.7-3.7L/day. It is impossible to live without consuming water. When we are aware of how much water we consume both directly and indirectly, we are able to make informed decisions to conserve water.

 

Water is vital to life. Our bodies are 60-75% water! We use a lot of water in our daily lives, and it’s important to consider how much water you’re using. If you’re like me, and don’t want to waste water, the first steps are examining how much water you use and planning simple changes to conserve water. If you are aware of how water influences your daily life, you’re more likely to protect it. The next time that you’re about to turn on the faucet, consider the journey of that water from the Saskatchewan Glacier to your tap. Water is precious and water is important. Reducing your water footprint starts with small steps like eating less meat, planting native species in your garden, and sweeping your patio or driveway instead of hosing it down.  

Looking for more ideas? Here’s over 100 ways to conserve water: https://wateruseitwisely.com/100-ways-to-conserve/?view=list

 

Sources

 

Anne, Melodie. “How Much Water Do You Drink to Flush Your Body?” LIVESTRONG.COM, Leaf Group, 3 Oct. 2017, www.livestrong.com/article/454986-how-much-water-do-you-drink-to-flush-your-body/

Bradford, Alina. “Dishwasher vs. Hand-Washing: What Saves More Water?” CNET, CNET, 7 Mar. 2017, www.cnet.com/how-to/how-much-water-do-dishwashers-use/

“Clothes Washer.” Toilets | Home Water Works, www.home-water-works.org/indoor-use/clothes-washer

“It Takes Up to 10,000 Litres Of Water To Make One Pair Of Jeans, Know How It Affects The Environment.” The Logical Indian, The Logical Indian, 4 Feb. 2017, www.thelogicalindian.com/environment/jeans/

Mortillaro, Nicole. “This Is How Much Water Canadians Waste.” Global News, Global News, 30 Oct. 2016, www.globalnews.ca/news/3016754/this-is-how-much-water-canadians-waste/

Weinstein, Kaley. “How Much Water Does It Take to Make a Pair of Jeans?” SiOWfa15 Science in Our World Certainty and Controversy, 16 Oct. 2014, www.sites.psu.edu/math033sp15/2014/10/16/how-much-water-does-it-take-to-make-a-pair-of-jeans