KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WWMT) – Watch out Loch Ness monster, you've got some competition!
A massive fish was caught by biologists last week on the Detroit River. Biologists with the Alpena Fish and Wildlife Conservation Office shared a photo of their "once in a lifetime" catch on Facebook on April 30.
“We knew it was big in the water, but when we saw it on the deck of the boat, we were all like, 'Yep, this is very large,'" said Paige Wigren, one of the fisheries biologists with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on board.
Once on deck, Wigren and her colleagues Jason Fischer and Jennifer Johnson only had about two to three minutes before the fish needed to get back in the water.
"The first thing that was going through our mind was, 'Don't get off, because no one's going to believe us,'" Fischer said. Fortunately the crew had just enough time to snap the now viral photo.
The lake sturgeon weighed in at 240 pounds and measured 6 feet, 10 inches long. It's one of the largest lake sturgeon ever recorded in the United States, according to the online post.
Its girth and size actually went beyond the limits of the growth chart used by the biologists to age the fish.
“We went to the largest point in this chart, and added a tiny bit more," Wigren said.
It was estimated the fish was a female that's been in the water for over 100 years.
Johnson, who's the one lying next to the fish in the photo, said it's the largest fish she's ever seen in person.
"The next largest fish that I’ve ever been around was another lake sturgeon that we caught a few years ago, and that one was 123 pounds," Johnson said. "So this one was double that.”
After being tagged, weighed, measured and photographed by the Detroit River native species crew, she was released back into the river. The team samples different species in various water bodies to access the health of the fish populations.
Lake sturgeon are listed as a threatened species in Michigan. Information from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources said lake sturgeon are an important component to the Great Lakes fish community.
According to the US Fish and Wildlife Service, lake sturgeon have been around since the dinosaurs and have lived in the Great Lakes for 10,000 years.
If you're a little freaked out to learn fish of this size swim in our Great Lakes, the biologists assured lake sturgeon are generally gentle fish and they don't have teeth.