Langley's Ivan Budimir was in Derby Reach Park, geocaching with visiting family on Aug. 19 when their hunt for a hidden cache was interrupted by the discovery of a massive dead fish.
Just west of the park's dog offleash area they found a sturgeon. It was missing its tail and the belly was cut open but otherwise it was whole and lying on the mud flats.
"This is definitely the most unusual thing I've ever come across," he said.
Before resuming their high tech scavenger hunt, he contacted the Langley Advance, concerned.
There are several possibilities for the origin of the sturgeon, said Jack Trudgian, a B.C. Conservation officer.
Trudgian had been alerted to the fish's appearance late last week and he says it has been checked for tags, which might give an indication of whether it had been caught before and where it came from.
There is a legal sturgeon fishery, but it is strictly catch and release, Trudgian said.
"You can't catch and retain," he said.
Poachers will take Fraser sturgeon to extract valuable caviar, or more rarely just to eat, he said.
"We're always monitoring the sturgeon population and possible poaching, said Trudgian. Over the years, police and Conservation officers have announced periodic arrests of sturgeon poachers, who have the massive fish stuffed in garbage bags or in the trunks of cars.
Poachers usually take the entire fish, he noted.
Other possibilities include local test fishing or First Nations fishing inadvertently catching the animal. They sometimes die when caught in fishing nets, said Trudgian.
Or it may have been killed accidentally during a catch and release by a sport fisherman.
Some will pull fullgrown sturgeon onto shore or into boats, he said. That can damage their internal organs, which aren't made to handle the stress of being hauled out of the water and over solid objects.
"We just have to be very delicate with their species," said Trudgian. Some sturgeon can be more than a century old.
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