Sarasota, Florida - With their pointy noses and whisker-like sensors, sturgeon are an odd-looking and ancient fish. "They're the dinosaurs of the fish world," explains Kevan Main while looking into a tank teaming with fish. She's the director of the Mote Aquaculture Research Park.
And Mote scientists are trying to prevent sturgeon from disappearing like the dinosaurs. "The majority of the sturgeons around the world are either on the endangered or threatened species list and that's because they have been harvested for years for the caviar," says Main.
Photo Gallery: Siberian Sturgeon
Mote tanks hold about 90-thousand Siberian Sturgeon at all stages of development and if the adults look strange, the youngsters are kind of cute. "They are just the coolest looking fish," says Main, while holding a squirming 3-month-old in her hands.
Mote is looking to farm sturgeon in an environmentally friendly and economical manner. The sturgeon here are processed as seafood and the eggs harvested for caviar.
And for such a pricey product, the process is pretty simple. Workers rinse the eggs, salt them precisely, drain off the excess water and package them in tins.
You can find Mote caviar sold through online distributors and at some local shops like Ocean Harvest Market in Bradenton. Prices vary, but at about $40 an ounce it is truly a delicacy.
It's hoped that eventually farm-raised fish like the Mote sturgeon will take the stress off their wild cousins. And with a sustainable product, caviar connoisseurs can cave into cravings-guilt free.
For a limited time, Mote is offering tours of their aquaculture facilities. Money raised from the tours (which include 1 oz. of caviar) will go to support the research there. For more information, call Terri Deppe at 941-388-4441 x 345.