Inside America’s Only Beluga Caviar Farm

Inside America’s Only Beluga Caviar Farm

This is a baby beluga sturgeon, just about 1 year old. If everything goes as planned, in about nine years its eggs
will be harvested for caviar, which in today’s market can sell for up to $35,000 per kilogram. We visited one of the largest
beluga farms in the world to find out how this expensive delicacy gets from farm to spoon. Beluga sturgeon are
native to the Caspian Sea, but these beluga live
over 6,000 miles away, on the Florida Panhandle. This is Sturgeon AquaFarms
in Bascom, Florida. It sits on 120 acres and
features more than 100 tanks that hold five different
species of sturgeon, including sterlet and sevruga. It’s one of the biggest
sources of beluga in the world and the only one in the United States. Narrator: Mark Zaslavsky
is a Russian immigrant who imported beluga into
the US right before the government banned all imports
of beluga products, in 2005. Due to the overwhelming demand for beluga, the fish is classified
as critically endangered. Because Zaslavsky brought
his fish over before the ban, his farm is the only US-based company legally allowed to breed beluga. Narrator: The original beluga imported in 2003 are known as brood stock. Narrator: At more than 15 years old, they weigh up to 350 pounds and measure more than 9 feet long. And they have one simple job: make babies. The eggs used for reproduction are removed from the living fish with
a process called stripping. After the beluga are born, it takes five years to
determine their gender and around 10 years for
the fish to produce eggs that are ready to be harvested for caviar. The tanks are continuously
filled with fresh water from an aquifer along with
a steady flow of oxygen. The fish are fed up to three times a day. Feeding the fish costs
up to $40,000 a month. After patiently waiting for
more than a decade, Zaslavsky was finally preparing to harvest his beluga at the end of 2018. But in October of 2018, Hurricane Michael swept through Bascom, causing extensive damage at the farm and killing some of his beluga stock. According to Zaslavsky, this delayed his potentially
lucrative beluga harvest by at least three years. Zaslavsky: Hey, hey, take it easy. Narrator: In the meantime,
the farm harvests eggs from its other sturgeon species,
like sterlet and sevruga, which take less time
than beluga to mature. The sturgeon is removed from
the tank and placed on ice. The fish is then cut open
and its egg sac is removed. The eggs get separated from the sac by rubbing it over a metal grate, and the eggs are
collected below in a bowl. Salt is then added and
mixed in with the eggs, and voilà: caviar. The caviar produced at Sturgeon AquaFarms is sold at Zaslavsky’s Manhattan-based restaurant and store, Marky’s Caviar, where this 2-ounce jar
of sevruga goes for $175 and where chef Buddha Lo, an
alumnus of Eleven Madison Park, creates a $200 tasting menu that incorporates the caviar
into each unique course. But there’s more to this
farm than just making caviar. According to Zaslavsky, he
aims to use his beluga stock to help repopulate the species
in their native habitat. The company has already
donated more than 160,000 fertilized eggs to the
repopulation effort.

100 Comments

  1. My oops alarm just went off. At the beginning the professional narrator is telling us about how many eggs will come from a fish and the fish is called "he". Sorry Charlie… male fishes don't have eggs inside of them unless they eat a female. Please be more careful with script writing.

  2. This seems to point out stupidity of the Feds. If they would let more Beluga in, there could be more farms, which could take pressure off the wild population and supply fish for repopulation

  3. this is nothingcomparative for wild size , when I was a kid a twenty five footer swam past me in a lake community ,in Lake Oswego Oregon

  4. caviar is used to identify true goof humans who are dumber than the fish that the eggs come from….its called natural selection…..4 real im not kidding!!!

  5. I love that he's trying to help repopulate the Caspian with this critically endangered species. Of course, he'd repopulate it faster if they weren't eating most of the potential babies, but still… I appreciate that he's trying. Most people wouldn't bother to even care, let alone want to help.

  6. Little kid me couldnt eat those. Because id think little fishes would spawn in my little tummy like watermelon seeds would and would swim around. Lol

  7. Is no one going to talk about how my man uses the stripping method, i hope more people use it. I know it's only for the ones that are alive but still it's a start sense it's not widely used in the U.S

  8. Imagine if fish had captive humans and they hold bbys underwater for show while they drown how outraged humans would be

  9. This is inhumane. Do we really need to eat caviar to live? No! We humans are the worst thing that ever happened to Planet Earth!

  10. sturgeon farmer: “hurricane was fluke.”

    Me as a scientist Familiar with climate change: “yeahhhhhh, about that…”

  11. Atlantic Caviar and Sturgeon in NC is the the only US Source for Russian Caviar, 2014 Charlotte Observer, maybe this guy went out of Buisness?

  12. I thought he practices the "stripping"method of harvesting.
    As i under stand roe stripping,thats a no kill method of getting the eggs.

    ???

  13. Welp Im Gonna Rob That Place Bc i Live In Panama City Florida Wich Is Really Close To Panhandl And Bc i Love That Stuff

  14. I've been told, that when cooked properly, that Sturgeon taste very similar to lobster.
    Can ANYONE validate this??
    I would just like to know

  15. This a excellent example on how u can make a profit and give back to the environment and be sustainable. This isn’t impossible at all .

  16. This a excellent example on how u can make a profit and , give back to the environment and be sustainable. This isn’t impossible at all .

  17. Imagine being such a chad you get rich by killing a species just to repopulate it

    This man this the alpha chad of the year

  18. How does someone eat caviar without feeling the slightest bit guilty? You kill an animal to eat its unborn children. That's sci-fi horror material right there.

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