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The Beluga Sturgeon (Huso Huso) is a species of fish harvested for its extremely valuable roe, in the case of the Albino Beluga Sturgeon, known as Almas Caviar, the world’s most expensive. The common name for the Albino Beluga Sturgeon is derived from the Russian word белый (belyy), translated as “white.” Most Albino Beluga Sturgeons, from which Almas Caviar is harvested, are aged between 60 and 100 years old, some reportedly as old as 120 years.
The great value of the caviar of this fish, which is considered a delicacy (expensive, exclusive and scarce) is due to several reasons, on the one hand, the sturgeon is about to become extinct, and on the other, the caviar is usually extracted from 100-year-old specimens, which has a more elegant, aromatic, soft and delicious flavor and spongy texture.
All of these conditions make this caviar the most sophisticated and expensive food in the world, with the cost of one kilo reaching around US $ 25,000.
The Albino Beluga Sturgeon’s habitat is centered in both the Caspian and Black Seas. Historically, its range spanned Eurasia and North America, where smaller subspecies are still commonly found in rivers.
Albino Beluga Sturgeon are euryhaline, able to adapt and thrive in varying salinities in bodies of water. Given its unique ability to travel as well as live in both freshwater and saltwater environments, it can successfully leave oceans and seas for inland bodies of water, including both rivers and when possible, lakes, in order to spawn.
Given that Albino Beluga Sturgeon are so resilient to environmental changes, they can survive in some of the most polluted waters around the planet, but thrive in the relatively pristine conditions of the Caspian and Black Seas.
Habitat Regions: temperate; freshwater
Aquatic Biomes: pelagic lakes and ponds; rivers and streams
Other Habitat Features: estuarine
Biogeographic Regions: palearctic (native)
Albino Beluga Sturgeon is a truly primitive species of fish. Fossil records date back to the Lower Jurassic period, 201 – 174 million years ago. It is speculated that it predated this time, originating even further back in the Mesozoic Era, up to 252 years ago. Such prehistoric physical traits include:
- Small egg size
- Cartilaginous endoskeleton
- Hyostylic jaw suspension
- Heterocercal caudal fin
- Remnants of ganoid scales
- Spindle-shaped body
- Rows of bony scutes
- Long snout
- Sensory barbels
Other Physical Features: bilateral symmetry
A relative to the Beluga Sturgeon is its significantly smaller cousin, the Sterlet. In the video above, varieties of ornamental Sturgeon and Sterlets, including Beluga, Atlantic, and Diamond, and of course Albino, are seen underwater among Grayling and Carp. ■
Almas Caviar: Caspian Sea (or Lake?)
Almas: The Most Expensive Caviar in the World