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I Was Attacked By a Rogue Sturgeon in Hagerman

Terry Morgan/

I was attacked by a rogue White Sturgeon at the Hagerman National Fish Hatchery!

Stop laughing!

Southern Idaho is home to one if the oldest fish species: the White Sturgeon. Officially classified a bony fish, this pre-historic throw back actually has more in common with a shark, except they have no teeth.

Hagerman National Fish Hatchery is home to five White Sturgeon. They range from five to seven feet in length and they all live in a Display Pond that’s long, and not really that deep. My mom, wife, son, and I visited on Sunday and were told by one of the employees that we could touch the sturgeon if we lay on the side.

All was going pretty well until one of the sturgeon breached out of the water and tried to suck on my face.

We had been watching and petting the sturgeon for quite some time. They slowly circle the display pond and came up right beneath us to allow us to pet them. They don’t have scales like normal fish, instead their skin feels like a diver’s wet suit. And obviously they wouldn’t hurt anyone. They’re the biggest North American freshwater fish, so they’re at the top of the food chain, but they don’t have any teeth. They’re bottom feeders.

There was a moment where four of the five sturgeon were right below Jack and I and we thought it was cool! Except the water wasn’t deep enough to allow all of these animals to pass at the same time. One of the six footers came up on the wall and for whatever reason, came out of the water about four inches from my face. I was close enough to see the little scars on its nose. That’s too close.

I rolled back out of the way as the sturgeon arched up out of the water–my mom and wife were sitting on a bench away from the water and they said the fish came far enough out of the water that they could see its entire head–but my son didn’t move.

I panicked, but Jack just watched the fish sink back down into the water. Afterwards Jack laughed at me and called me a “sissy.” He’s four. And right.

We stayed for quite a while longer after that, but never saw the sturgeon come out of the water again. It was really strange.

But I still highly recommend Hagerman National Fish Hatchery. It’s fantastic!

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