Sturgeons are long-lived, late-maturing fishes with distinctive characteristics, such as a heterocercal caudal fin similar to those of sharks, and an elongated, spindle-like body that is smooth-skinned, scaleless, and armored with five lateral rows of bony plates called scutes. Several species can grow quite large, typically ranging 7–12 ft (2–3 1⁄2 m) in length. The largest sturgeon on record was a beluga female captured in the Volga estuary in 1827, weighing 1,571 kg (3,463 lb) and 7.2 m (24 ft) long. Most sturgeons are anadromous bottom-feeders, which migrate upstream to spawn.

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