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More than 12-hundred missing in the California wildfires. Also on the Monday rundown: a pair of reports on gun violence in the nation; plus concerns that proposed Green-Card rules favor the wealthy.

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Celebrating the Iconic Northwest ... Sturgeon?

PHOTO: This tiny sturgeon fry could grow up to be 5 to 6 feet in length, and can live for 70 years or more. This weekend's Columbia River Sturgeon Festival in Vancouver, Wash. pays tribute to this prehistoric fish species. Photo courtesy Wash. Dept. of Fish and Wildlife.
PHOTO: This tiny sturgeon fry could grow up to be 5 to 6 feet in length, and can live for 70 years or more. This weekend's Columbia River Sturgeon Festival in Vancouver, Wash. pays tribute to this prehistoric fish species. Photo courtesy Wash. Dept. of Fish and Wildlife.
September 18, 2014

VANCOUVER, Wash. – Salmon get the lion's share of attention in the Pacific Northwest, but a festival this weekend in Vancouver calls attention to another fascinating fish species.

The sturgeon may not be considered beautiful or iconic, but like salmon, it also requires careful management by state and tribal fish agencies.

At the 18th Annual Sturgeon Festival on Saturday in Vancouver, some visitors will get their first look at these gentle, deep-water giants.

Biologist Olaf Langness with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife says he's been studying sturgeon since 2000.

"There's a lot of things to love about sturgeon,” he says. “They're prehistoric fish, and that's very fascinating in itself. And you know, you begin to get a sense when you work with them that there's something more going on than blank stares and so forth. They seem to be more in tune with their environment, what's going on."

While there isn't a big food market for sturgeon, Langness says they are edible.

In past years, sturgeon were over-fished, and today, chief concerns for long-term sturgeon health and survival are water pollution, warmer waters and – in the Columbia River – dams and hungry sea lions.

The Sturgeon Festival will be held at the Water Resources Education Center in Vancouver. In addition to the festival, Langness suggests another spot to see them in the Columbia River Gorge.

"One of the best places to view live adult sturgeon is at the sturgeon viewing tank at the Bonneville hatchery, below Bonneville Dam,” he points out. “There are large sturgeon in there, and you can go down into an underground viewing site and watch them swim around in their natural habitat."

Sturgeon is the largest freshwater fish in North America, and Langness explains the adults are too big to use the fish ladders built near dams for migrating salmon, so individual populations have developed in areas between the dams.

Some are doing better than others, and state fishing seasons and retention rates are set accordingly.

Chris Thomas, Public News Service - WA