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Shark-like sturgeon causes stir on Lake Washington

An 8-foot-long sturgeon resembling a shark caused a stir over the weekend on Lake Washington. (John R. Johnson photo)
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When John R. Johnson saw a big white carcass floating in the water in front of his home on Lake Washington over the weekend, his first thought was it was a shark.

"It looked just like a shark. It was floating on its back and had these big teeth," Johnson says.

Turns out it was a sturgeon measuring about 8 feet long. Johnson's home is just north of Seattle's Matthews Beach, which was jam packed with families swimming on a sunny Sunday. He grabbed the rotting fish and tied it up before it could float to the popular beach.

"I was imagining a scene right out of Jaws with people running out of the water. It was big and stinky and really yucky," Johnson says.

The fish are pretty rare for Lake Washington, according to Craig Bartlett with the Department of Fish and Wildlife. Bartlett says they're a freshwater fish that migrate in rivers but like to hang out in areas where there's a mixture of salt and freshwater, most abundantly in the Columbia River. Sport fisherman also pursue them near several Puget Sound river mouths, including the Snohomish and Skagit.

A research boat from the University of Washington caught a five-and-a-1/2 foot sturgeon in Lake Washington back in 2005, while an 11 foot long sturgeon, weighing 640 pounds, was found in the lake in 1987, according to Bartlett.

Sturgeon are some of the largest freshwater fish in the world. They can grow up to 20 feet long and weigh more than 1,000 pounds.

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