Little is known about the pallid sturgeon. This bottom-feeding fish reaches 68 pounds but is rarely observed and infrequently taken on hook-and-line. Even historical records are sketchy, for the species was not formally distinguished from the more-common shovelnose sturgeon until 1905.
Pallid sturgeons are rare throughout their range, which includes the Missouri River and the Mississippi River below St. Louis. Only two records are known for Arkansas, one each from the Mississippi and St. Francis rivers.
The sturgeon's decline should concern all Arkansans, because it is one indication that big river systems like the Mississippi are sick. Creation and maintenance of the Mississippi River as a navigation system has altered the waterway and continues to threaten its viability as an ecosystem. Municipal wastewater discharges, industrial pollution, agricultural runoff and sedimentation due to erosion contaminate the river and pose a major threat tot river species. These problems threaten pallid sturgeons and humans alike.