Caviar poaching has decimated the species considered a national pride.
"In the old days, we would catch sturgeon each weighing 40 to 50 kg, or 60 kg (132 lb)," sighed Pavel Syzranov, the head of the once thriving Lenin fishery in southern Russia.
"Now there are no sturgeon left of that size," he said after the two immature fish, known as sterlets, were released back into the Volga.
The relentless hunt for the so-called "Czar fish" and its precious eggs has acquired such huge proportions in post-Soviet Russia that the prehistoric creature, which outlived the dinosaurs, has itself now been pushed to the edge of extinction.
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