When South Carolina residents near Folly Beach found a large, yellowish creature with plates and spiny projections washed up on shore, they were quick to label it an unusual sea monster.
But before imaginations got out of hand, a local veterinarian from the South Carolina Aquarium came forward with a more reasonable explanation for what should still be considered a rare find. Live 5 reports it was identified as an Atlantic sturgeon.
According to KSEE 24, Atlantic sturgeon can grow to be as large as 15 feet long and 800 pounds. NOAA's description of Atlantic sturgeon states they are generally "bluish-black or olive brown dorsally (on their back) with paler sides and a white belly," suggesting we are seeing the underside of this fish -- or it may have been dead for a while.
Here are some pictures of live Atlantic sturgeon:
Here's some cloudy footage of the pre-historic creature:
This species, some say, has been swimming the seas for 100 million years but its population is dwindling. As of 2009, five populations of Atlantic sturgeon were listed on the endangered species list.
The Atlantic variety is one of 26 species in the family Acipenseridae. Sturgeon can be found in estuaries with few ever venturing out into open ocean and some are exclusively freshwater. In fact, some of the northern and Midwestern states are well-known for river and lake sturgeon fishing. Wisconsin, for example, has a strong sturgeon fishing season with times for both traditional fishing as well as spear fishing. The 2012 spear fishing season in Wisconsin wrapped up on Feb. 26. this year. In Winnebago, Wisc., according to the Department of Natural Resources, the 10 days allowed for winter spear fishing brings in about $3.5 million to the area. According to reports, this past season yielded fewer catches than the previous year.
[H/T AOL Paw Nation]