Waterskier stumbles upon giant, floating fish



Photo courtesy of Keith Magnuson

Waterskiers often negotiate obstacles, but rarely are those obstacles presented in the form of giant floating sturgeon.

Seattle’s Keith Magnuson, while waterskiing on Lake Washington, recently encountered such a fish, and he told the Seattle Times that the fish was so large that he initially thought it was something far more fearsome.

“At first I thought it was a shark, but then we figured out it was a large sturgeon,” Magnuson said.

The prehistoric-looking fish measured 8 feet and was upside-down, revealing its white belly.

The peculiar discovery generated interest among scientists and the fish is being studied by the University of Washington School of Fisheries and Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.

"It is not a common fish to find in the lake and rather unique,” said Annette Hoffman, a state biologist, adding that an 11-foot sturgeon was found in the lake in 1987.

A smaller sturgeon was caught by researchers in 2005.

“Sturgeon live in deep water, and are bottom feeders so they're not easy to spot,” Hoffman said.

Sturgeon, which date back about 200 million years, are the largest freshwater fish in the world. They can measure 20 feet and weigh 1,000-plus pounds.

In Washington, they’re commonly targeted by anglers in the Columbia River.

It’s not clear why the 8-foot sturgeon Magnuson encountered went belly-up.

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