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.

40 thoughts on “Inside America’s Only Beluga Caviar Farm

  1. He just saved an entire species.

    Some of you might not know, but we also have this kind of similar situation, we have a seed vault, which is the Svalbard Global Seed Vault , where all the seeds from different plants in different countries all over the world have been stored as a stock/copy in case of a disaster. The Seed Vault is located on the Norwegian island of Spitsbergen, near Longyearbyen, in the remote ArcticSvalbard archipelago, approximately 1,300 kilometres (810 mi) from the North Pole.

  2. Just a guy who likes his fish, treats them right, probably talks to them in his free time, kills them, sells theirs eggs, and repopulates the species. Pretty damn wholesome

  3. 🤣🤣🤣 paying a lot of money for a little jar.
    🤣🤣🤣 when are they going to do next??. eat poop from critical extinct fish

  4. It’s definitely an investment, no wonder the prices on the caviars are up in the price range.. for me personally I wouldn’t buy any.

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