Sturgeon, any of about 29 species of fishes of the family Acipenseridae (subclass Chondrostei), native to temperate waters of the Northern Hemisphere. Sturgeons remain in the river system during summer and return downriver in fall. Due to overfishing, the abundance of natal populations is much less than historic levels, but breeding populations still exist in at least 22 U.S. rivers from Maine to Georgia and in several more in Canada. The Atlantic Sturgeon is recognized by a particular arrangement of the scutes and an elongate body with a slightly upturned snout. It has no scales, but five rows of bony plates, called scutes, cover its head and body: one along the back, one on either side and two along the belly. Males probably reproduce every 3 to 4 years, while this interval is longer for females. They were around during the Cretaceous period, when dinosaurs roamed the earth. However, no Atlantic sturgeon have been recorded in Florida waters since 1900. National Recovery Program | It spends most of its life in the ocean and coastal areas. Shoreline and Spartina Marsh stabilization along the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway, South CarolinaThis project will rehabilitate tidal marsh areas experiencing degradation from boat traffic along the Intracoastal Waterway, within the ACE Basin National Estuarine Research Reserve, by constructing natural breakwaters using oyster reefs. To address these issues, a study was conducted to provide information on habitat use, age distribution, reproductive status, and sea­ sonal movements ofadult Atlantic sturgeon in two South Carolina rivers. The Atlantic Sturgeon feeds primarily on benthic invertebrates, although large juveniles and adults also feed on small fish. COSEWIC History of Status Designation: Designated Threatened in May 2011. However, the connectivity of many of these springs to the main rivers has been diminished by drought and sediment. Biology | The species gathers in areas between Québec City and Petite-Rivière-Saint-François to rear and feed their young, and potentially so adults can spawn, rest and feed as well. COSEWIC Status: Threatened In the late 1800s, North American Atlantic sturgeon were heavily targeted for consumption and adults in particular were sought for their caviar. Description | Juveniles may overwinter in freshwater or move into estuaries when temperatures drop in the fall. Credit: NMFS. Most species live in the ocean and ascend rivers to spawn in spring or summer; a few others are confined to fresh water. Long distance migrations away from spawning rivers are common. Genetic information suggests both regional and population-level structure and the existence of two designatable units (DUs): St. Lawrence River and Maritimes DUs. Most juveniles remain in their river of birth (natal river) for at least s… RANGE: Atlantic sturgeon are currently present in 32 of the 38 historical rivers known to have sturgeon populations along the Atlantic coast of the United States.

Under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, critical habitat may be designated by NOAA Fisheries for the conservation of threatened and endangered species under its jurisdiction. Atlantic sturgeon (Acipenser oxyrhnchus) are ancient fish dating back at least 70 million years, and can be found along the entire Atlantic coast from Florida to Labrador, Canada. The Atlantic Sturgeon is a large-bodied, slow-growing and late-maturing anadromous fish, which lives and grows in brackish, salty water, but spawns in fresh water. Once larvae begin migrating downstream they use benthic structure (especially gravel matrices) as refuges. 2000; Collins Periodic or grab sampling utilized to date may miss suspected short-term degradations of water quality associated with water flows of storm events. Atlantic sturgeon are currently present in approximately 32 of these rivers, and spawning occurs in at least 20 of them. Adults range from six to eight feet in length. Figure 1 – Where Atlantic sturgeon are found along the United States. Spotlight on James River Atlantic Sturgeon Habitat Restoration, VirginiaA lack of clean, hard substrate has been noted as a limiting factor for the restoration of many anadromous species in the James River. Atlantic sturgeon are similar in appearance to shortnose sturgeon (Acipenser brevirostrum), but can be distinguished by their larger size, smaller mouth, different snout shape, and scutes. Photo credit: Virginia Institute of Marine Sciences. In some southern rivers a fall spawning migration may also occur. Mature female Atlantic Sturgeon attain an average total length of 2 - 3 m and weigh between 100 - 200 kg; mature males are smaller at 1.4 - 2.1 m total length and weigh 50 - 100 kg. In the St. Lawrence River, spawning occurs in June and July, after which the adults migrate further downstream in the Estuary and the Gulf. Females take nearly 20 years to mature. The Atlantic Sturgeon is an anadromous species that resides and matures in the sea, but spawns in freshwater, which also serves as juvenile rearing habitat. They are bluish-black or olive brown dorsally (on their back) with paler sides and a white belly. itudinal range similar to that of Atlantic sturgeon, and juveniles grow faster at higher latitudes, a difference in growth that has reproductive implications for this short- lived species (Conover and Present, 1990). Atlantic sturgeon have been aged to 60 years. For example, Atlantic sturgeon mature in South Carolina rivers at 5-19 years of age, in the Hudson River at 11-21 years, and in the Saint Lawrence River at 22-34 years. This young Atlantic sturgeon was raised at a national fish hatchery and stocked into the Hudson river to help boost local populations back in 1994. There is generally faster growth and earlier age at maturation in more southern populations. This fish is a long lived, anadromous species (60 years for females, 30 years for males), meaning that it resides and matures at sea, but spawns in freshwater. Three Hydrolab sonde units will be placed near the river's bottom to collect data over at least eight months of the year.This time series data will include measurements on oxygen, pH, temperature and salinity and others. PLEASE NOTE: Not all COSEWIC reports are currently available on the SARA Public Registry. 2 in Bladen County, North Carolina. Juveniles usually reside in estuarine waters for months to years. Sturgeon eggs are highly adhesive and are deposited on bottom substrate, usually on hard surfaces (e.g., cobble). Improved Red Drum Habitat through Community-based Oyster Reef Habitat RestorationLittle has been attempted to improve the habitat to ensure survival of stocked red drum fingerlings in SC waters This project will create additional oyster reefs in stocking areas. Dredging of rivers also affects the food source of sturgeons as they are benthic feeders. These are the largest anadromous fish on the East Coast of the United States, reaching as much as 14 feet () and 800 pounds, though the largest fish seen in modern times is around 400 pounds. Sturgeon capture and sampling.—Atlantic Sturgeon were captured with multifilament, nylon gill nets of 33.0- and 38.7-cm stretched mesh. ‘Spawning Atlantic sturgeon are showing up in rivers where they were never thought to exist.’ Commenting on the prognosis elsewhere in the range, Delaware State University’s Fox offers this: “Spawning Atlantic sturgeon are showing up in rivers where they were never thought to exist. It is the largest and longest-lived aquatic organism in the Atlantic Slope rivers of North America, and played a critical role in the establishment of the Jamestown settlement. Atlantic Sturgeon … Restoring Diadromous Fish Passage and Habitat to Shoreys Brook, MaineThis project, located in South Berwick, ME will restore approximately 800 feet of habitat for diadromous fish species and enhance approximately 4.3 miles of habitat in Shoreys Brook.  A partially‐breached dam was completely removed and the stream bed was restored to its approximate original condition. They have five major rows of dermal "scutes". The Atlantic Sturgeon, St. Lawrence populations, is mainly found east of Trois-Rivières, into the Estuary and past the Gulf of St. Lawrence, into the Atlantic up until Ungava Bay in the north, and along the northeastern coast of Newfoundland in the south. The Atlantic Sturgeon does not spawn every year. 2014. The National Marine Fishereies Service has administration authority for this species an dit was recently listed as federally threatened in the Gulf of Maine and federally endangered throghout its remaining range. “Together, they comprise the southernmost portion of the Atlantic sturgeon’s range. The population around the Chesapeake Bay was feared to be extinct in the mid-1990s. Range and Distribution The range of the East Coast subspecies of Atlantic sturgeon (A. oxyrinchus) extends from the Hamilton River in Labrador, Canada and from northern Quebec to southeastern Florida. Text taken from the NOAA Fisheries Office of Protected Resources online fact sheet, November 2013 and Chesapeake Bay Program online fact sheet. They range as far north as Ungava Bay, Labrador, into the Gulf of St. Lawrence, southward on the Atlantic coast to Florida and along the coast of the Gulf of Mexico. Dr. Douglas Peterson and students at the University of Georgia are assessing the current spawning stock status of Atlantic sturgeon in the Altamaha River to determine abundance, sex ratio, and age-structure of the spawning population, survey juvenile abundance to determine recent recruitment trends, and identify and describe essential habitats of different life stages of Atlantic sturgeon (i.e., juvenile, sub adult, and adult) in the Altamaha River. Atlantic Sturgeon spawn in relatively shallow fresh water over rocky substrate, preferring depths of one to three metres with a strong current. COSEWIC Status Criteria: D2 Males do not reach sexual maturity until they are at least 10 years old. Atlantic sturgeon leap completely out the water, making a loud splash which can be heard half a mile away and possibly further under water. Atlantic Sturgeon is a biologically significant species with its ancestry dating back some 200 million years. Females can lay up to 2 million eggs, which are large and black and stick to the bottom of the river.
Credit: NMFS. Sturgeons were abundant when English settlers arrived in the Bay region in the 1600s. It grows slowly, eventually reaching 5 to 6 feet in length. The largest Atlantic sturgeon ever recorded was caught in Canada. In 1898, commercial landings peaked in New York at 510,000 pounds. Other COSEWIC reports not yet available may include those species assessed as Extinct, Data Deficient or Not at Risk. Southeast Map of Atlantic sturgeon critical habitat for Greater Atlantic and Southeast Regions. Marine and fresh water pollution was also identified as a potential threat to the Atlantic Sturgeon's habitat. Protection | Historical records from the 1700s and 1800s document large numbers of sturgeon in many rivers along the Atlantic Coast. Whereas the European sturgeon has a quite narrow range of preferred temperatures, the Atlantic sturgeon tolerates a wider range of spawning temperature and generally is more flexible in regards to temperature (Ludwig & Gessner, 2007; but compare Williot et al., 2011). Because of its large size, the female Atlantic Sturgeon is extremely fertile. Atlantic sturgeon are listed as five distinct population segments with those that hatch out in Gulf of Maine rivers listed as threatened, and those that hatch out in other U.S. rivers listedas endangered. The largest fish to be captured in the St. Lawrence River (160 kg or 350 lb) was estimated to be about 60 years old. Cape Fear River Fisheries Enhancement ProjectThis project, lead by Cape Fear River Watch, will restore .5 acres of fish habitat by placing approximately 1,000 tons of crushed granite rock (over 2,000 cubic yards, .5 acres downstream of lock and dam #2) in the Cape Fear River below Lock & Dam No. The Gulf sturgeon occurs on Florida’s west coast. COSEWIC Range: Quebec, Atlantic Ocean Atlantic sturgeon range from the St. Johns River in Florida to the St. Lawrence River in Canada. Most of the reports not yet available are status reports for species assessed by COSEWIC prior to May 2002. Atlantic sturgeon are anadromous fishthey are born in freshwater, then migrate to the sea and back again to freshwater to spawn. Wild populations subsequently found in the Savannah River (Georgia/South Carolina) and Pee Dee River (North Carolina) have been augmented by stocking in other areas of Georgia and South Carolina. Distribution: Description: Four smaller plates usually as 2 pairs, between anal fin and caudal fulcrum, first pair may overlap base of anal fin, second pair may look like one plate; 6-9 plates, mostly in pairs, behind dorsal fin; dorsal plates 7-16; lateral plates 24-35; usually to 10 feet and 300 pounds. Habitat Restoration to Benefit Rare Species and Natural Communities in the Altamaha River WatershedCool water springs feeding major coastal rivers in Georgia provide critical thermal refuges during summer for diadromous fishes such as striped bass. COSEWIC Reason for Designation: This large-bodied, slow-growing, and late-maturing fish consists of a small breeding population spawning within a relatively small area. Taxonomy Group: Fishes Geographic Range: According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Marine Fisheries Service, historically, Atlantic sturgeon were present in approximately 38 rivers in the United States from St. Croix, ME to the Saint Johns River, FL, of which 35 rivers have been confirmed to have had a historical spawning population. Among the species showing improvement is Atlantic sturgeon, whose range stretches from Florida to eastern Canada. Accessed 18 Mar. Sturgeons are very sensitive to low oxygen, pollution and other poor water conditions. The gravel augmentation is expected to benefit invertebrates, including mussels, as well as anadromous species such as striped bass, American shad, and Atlantic sturgeon. It is likely that cold, clean water is important for proper larval development. SARA Status: No schedule, No Status Sturgeons supported an important fishing industry from colonial times to the early 20. The fish then only typically returns to its spawning ground every 3-5 years. Atlantic Sturgeon, Acipenser oxyrhynchus. Sturgeons are the largest fish native to the Chesapeake Bay. Scientific Name: Acipenser oxyrinchus These rivers are essentially the canaries in the mine. Atlantic sturgeon can live for more than 60 years. Spotlight on James River Atlantic Sturgeon Habitat Restoration, Virginia, Winter Flounder (Psuedoleuronectes americanus), Mapped Collection Data for Atractosteus Spatula, Watershed Distribution Status of Alligator Gar, EBTJV, ACFHP, and SARP Science Projects Matrix, W2B Working Comm and Outreach Strategies Document, EBTJV-Related Science and Data Projects_2013, Advancing Fish Habitat Science Through Whitewater to Bluewater Collaboration: ACFHP Science Projects, SARP projects for W2B Science discussion 25Oct2013, Downstream Strategies Assesment Presentation, Whitewater to Bluewater Science Call #1 Notes, Whitewater to Bluewater Science Call #2 Notes, Whitewater to Bluewater Science Call #3 Notes, Fish Passage Barrier Removal Fact Sheet Template - North Carolina Edition, Fish Passage Barrier Removal Fact Sheet Template - Guidance Document, officially declared the Atlantic sturgeon an endangered species, Habitat Restoration to Benefit Rare Species and Natural Communities in the Altamaha River Watershed, Oconee River Gravel Bar Habitat Enhancement (Phase I), Gravel Augmentation at Spawning Habitats in the Oconee and Ogeechee Rivers of Georgia, Improved Red Drum Habitat through Community-based Oyster Reef Habitat Restoration, Cape Fear River Fisheries Enhancement Project, Monitoring selected water quality parameters on the Saint Marys River addressing NFHAP goals, Restoring Diadromous Fish Passage and Habitat to Shoreys Brook, Maine, Shoreline and Spartina Marsh stabilization along the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway, South Carolina. The species is exploited in a regulated commercial fishery, but limited monitoring of the effects of this fishery make the viability of this population highly uncertain. Geographic Range: According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Marine Fisheries Service, historically, Atlantic sturgeon were present in approximately 38 rivers in the United States from St. Croix, ME to the Saint Johns River, FL, of which 35 rivers have been confirmed to have had a historical spawning population. Documents. Atlantic sturgeon are found on the east coast of North America and range from New Brunswick, Canada, down to the eastern coast of Florida. The impact will be many fold as other organisms will utilize the habitat and oyster population and water quality improvements will be recognized. Gravel Augmentation at Spawning Habitats in the Oconee and Ogeechee Rivers of GeorgiaThe robust redhorse (Moxostoma robustum), a species that had been lost to science for about 150 years, was discovered on the Oconee River in 1991. Native to North America, its range extends from New Brunswick, Canada to the eastern coast of Florida. In North America, they range along the Atlantic Coast from the Gulf of Mexico to Newfoundland, including the Great Lakes and the St. Lawrence, Missouri, and Mississippi Rivers, as well as along the West Coast in major rivers from California and Idaho to British Columbia. It measured 14 feet long and weighed 811 pounds. The transition zone between fresh water and salt water in the St. Lawrence estuary is home to groups of benthic prey preferred by the Atlantic Sturgeon and is an important habitat for the breeding and feeding of juveniles. Web. Atlantic sturgeon habitats have increased vulnerability since they inhabit areas that are at risk of dredging. 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