Well, Nanaimo, with your cute downtown core and delicious Thai food, the time has come for me to say goodbye. What a week it has been. Rick Hansen and Shawn Atleo, caviar and new friends…all in the name of sturgeon conservation.

As I head back to Vancouver, I can’t help but reflect on the week I have had. I came to the 7th International Sturgeon Symposium knowing little more than the facts that sturgeon are giant and long-lived fish and have whisker-looking barbels hanging near their mouths. Now, I know that there are many species around the world (the World Sturgeon Conservation Society lists 31), “caviar” technically only applies to eggs from sturgeon (not herring, carp, snails, etc.) and First Nations traditional knowledge has become integral in many research studies across Canada.

More than 300 people from over 30 countries participated.

More than 300 people from over 30 countries participated.

I have learned that there is a big and passionate group of scientists, academics, advocates and even artists that are sharing the plight of the sturgeon with the world. Even though many sturgeon species are categorized as vulnerable, endangered or critically endangered due to overfishing and habitat degradation, they are telling us that it’s not too late to take notice of these exceptional fish and do something about their conservation.

There are white sturgeon (Acipenser transmontanus) at the Vancouver Aquarium that I can’t wait to see again – because this time, I will be looking at them anew, with a greater appreciation of how far they’ve come (they’re considered a dinosaur fish) and the long journey they still have ahead.

Blog post written by Karen Horak, a writer-editor at the Vancouver Aquarium. She was in Nanaimo to cover the 7th International Symposium on Sturgeon. Titled “Sturgeon, Science and Society – at the Crossroads: Meeting the Challenges of the 21st Century,” this conference, hosted by the World Sturgeon Conservation Society and Vancouver Island University, is held every four years in cities around the world. 

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