Scientists are in the process of confirming their hypothesis that white sturgeon husbandry practices (in particular the environmental conditions under which fish are kept, their diet, and perhaps stress levels) are the root cause of soft-egg syndrome, an undesired caviar trait that has become common in some cultured caviar in recent years. In a series of controlled experiments, soft eggs were shown to be the result of physiological problems in the oocyte and/ or ovary during egg envelope formation and oocyte maturation. Post-harvesting processing techniques were ruled out as a cause. In the coming year, scientists will analyze eggs collected from sturgeon raised under different environmental conditions and fed different diets to pinpoint husbandry practices that might alleviate the problem. Besides the project’s applications to farming sturgeon for better caviar, the findings will also provide insights into endangered green sturgeon recovery strategies. Sterling Caviar and The Fishery are collaborating on this project.
Soft-Egg Syndrome in Farmed White Sturgeon