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Sturgeon Population Bounces Back From the Brink

CANADA - When dozens of white sturgeon began washing up dead on the banks of British Columbia's Fraser River in the mid-1990s, some feared that North America's largest freshwater fish could be headed toward extinction.

Once plentiful in the river, the sturgeon population had dropped below 40,000, and scientists were unable to explain the die-offs of mostly female fish, reports the NationalGeographic.

That's when an alliance of government agencies, environmentalists, aboriginal groups, and commercial and recreational fishers came together to save the sturgeon, spurring a robust recovery of the lower Fraser River population.

Recent estimates show the population has increased to about 50,000 fish.

To Zeb Hogan, who leads National Geographic's Megafishes Project and has studied the sturgeon, it's a rare success story. (Read about the world's gargantuan freshwater fish.)

Worldwide, most species of large freshwater fish are in danger of going extinct in the near future," said Hogan, a National Geographic emerging explorer.