MOBILE, Ala. (WKRG) — A teacher at Clark-Shaw Magnet School invited a research professor from the University of Southern Mississippi to speak to students about her discovery of a rare fish that washed up on Mobile Bay earlier this month.

The unusual fish is known as a Gulf Sturgeon. Clark-Shaw science teacher, Tami May, found it while going fishing. Shortly after, she reported her odd discovery to NOAA.

May says when she first saw it, she thought it was an alligator gar because of the way the fish’s mouth was shaped. It wasn’t until after she reached out to a friend who told her what it actually was.

The Gulf Sturgeon has been around for more than 200 million years. It was one of the first species from the Gulf of Mexico to be put on the endangered species list back in 1991 mainly because of overfishing as they were often used for their unfertilized eggs, also known as caviar.

Dr. Mike Andres from USM says the adult male fish May found was originally captured from the Pearl River in 2018 and because of tags that are placed inside the fish, they were able to determine where the fish has lived and how much it grew over time.

“It was great because I mean a science teacher found a dead sturgeon, reported it and we were able to track everything through together and bring it full circle while also providing class experience for a lot of folks,” said Andres.

May says inviting both the Dauphin Island Sea Lab and USM to Clark-Shaw allowed students to see the working parts of what they learn about in science class.

“I knew my students would recognize that vocabulary and I thought here it is in a real-world application, they’re going to hear it and realize we actually teach them something that is going to be useful to them and is applicable to real-life,” said May.

Students from Clark-Shaw who attended the presentation and watched the dissection shared with News 5 their favorite moments.

“I thought it was pretty interesting finding out the patterns the sturgeons would go along the Gulf Coast and how they’re endangered,” said Jacob Kennamer, a seventh grader.

“When I saw the parts I was really amazed at how big the intestines were and how similar it was to us and other animals,” said Jaedyn Moore, a seventh grader.

May says she wants to encourage more students to go outside and do some exploring because you never know what interesting things you’ll discover.