Fisheries Program
Northeast Region

Shortnose sturgeon (Acipenser brevirostrum)

Life History

Shortnose sturgeon spawn and live in freshwater streams but may move to the estuaries of these large natal rivers to feed. They mature at 6-10 years and may spawn more than once. They are spring spawners but require moderate flows. They feed continuously from the bottom of the stream.


Canada to Florida - including nine rivers in CT, DE, ME, MD, MA, NJ, NY, PA and VA.

Fun Facts

  • Shortnose sturgeon were listed as endangered on March 11, 1967.
  • Sturgeon do not have scales like other fish, they have bony plates or scutes that cover their bodies. The scutes on shortnose sturgeon are smooth.
  • Shortnose sturgeon are the smallest sturgeon on the East Coast. Adults are only 2-4 feet long with an average weight of about 14 pounds.

More Information

Atlantic and Shortnose Sturgeon Species Profiles (pdf - 2.39MB)

Images showing the difference between the Atlantic sturgeon and the shortnose sturgeon (ppt - 30.77MB)

Proposed Listing Determinations for Three Distinct Population Segments of Atlantic Sturgeon in the Northeast Region (pdf - 1.34MB)

Final Recovery Plan for the Shortnose Sturgeon - December 1998 (pdf - 225KB)

Video of sturgeon (mov - 15.75MB)

Back to Aquatic Species Profiles
Last updated: December 16, 2011
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