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Atlantic Sturgeon Details
Name: Atlantic Sturgeon
Water Type: anadromous
Latin Name: Acipenser oxyrhinchus oxyrhinchus
Common Names: Sea sturgeon
Ideal Water Temp:
World Record:
Description: Among one of the oldest fish species in the world. The Atlantic sturgeon has five rows of bony plates known as scutes. Adults range from six to eight feet in length. 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.

Sturgeon in general are easily recognizable by the bony plates on their bodies and barbels (whiskers) just in front of the mouth. Sturgeon are among the oldest living species of fish and retain many primitive characteristics typical of fish during the age of the dinosaurs. Almost two dozen species of sturgeon can be found in the Northern Hemisphere, of which seven occur in North America. Here in Massachusetts, two species can be found: the Atlantic sturgeon and the sympatric (occupies the same areas) shortnose sturgeon (Acipenser brevirostrum) also federally endangered throughout its range. External morphology can vary widely within populations and although a 4' + shortnose sturgeon is rare, fish of the same size can be a challange to distinguish. Biologists rely mostly on mouth width relative to head length (Atlantic sturgeon have a narrower more centrally positioned mouth) and the presence of dermal ossifications running along the base of the anal fin. The Gulf sturgeon (a subspecies of Atlantic sturgeon) are even more similar in external appearance. Although some may have a V-shaped snout with two pairs of barbels and two rows of plates in front of the vent, biologists make positive identifications by capture location (Gulf of Mexico) and length of the spleen. The color pattern is typical for a bottom dweller with a dark back and light belly. Coloring can be described a blue black with a white or cream colored belly, but shades can vary according to environment, diet, and genetics.

Subspecies - The Gulf Sturgeon is generally recognized as Acipenser oxyrinchus desotoi .

Range - From Canada down along the Atlantic Coast to the St. Johns River and into the Gulf of Mexico as the A. o. desotoi subspecies.

Habitat - Stays primarily in shallow offshore waters but come in to the rivers to spawn.

Spawning Habits - Spawning takes place in fresh water (anadromous) when temperatures approach 64 degrees Fahrenheit. The demersal eggs take about a week to hatch. The young may stay in fresh water up to five years and females take 5-30 years to mature. Even then, they only spawn every 3-5 years and so are very vulnerable to over fishing.

Feeding habits - Bottom feeders consuming primarily mollusks and other sedentary bottom dwelling organisms.

Age and Growth - Atlantic sturgeon have been known to reach 14 feet in length, weigh over 800 pounds and live for at least 60 years.

Sporting Qualities - Primarily taken by snagging they are now protected. Commercial fisheries for their flesh and particularly for their roe (eggs that are sold as caviar) has led in part to their threatened status.

Eating Qualities - Flesh is primarily smoked the eggs are considered a gourmet item.
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Last comment was on 05/12/12 09:41 AM by anglerman17
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Last Edited By:herrbufo on 04/11/12 08:47 AM
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