My Scientific Name
Acipenser oxyrhynchus oxyrhynchus
By the Numbers
Atlantic sturgeon can grow to 14 feet in length, and weigh up to 800 pounds. The largest on record was captured in Canada and weighed 811 pounds!
How to Identify Me
I have a brown and tan body with a whitish belly. I do not have scales like most fish; my skin is rough, similar to sand paper. I have five rows of bony plates, called scutes, along the sides and top of my body. Like all sturgeon, I have a long forked heterocercal tail, the top of my tail fin is longer than the bottom. My snout is hard and upturned at the tip, with four whisker-like barbels below, and my mouth is soft and toothless.
Why I Matter and What's Been Happening
People used to catch me for my delicious meat and eggs, which were sold as a gourmet food called caviar. There was a very large commercial fishery for me in the 1880’s. Fishing continued into the 1950’s but by the 1990s many states no longer allowed fishing. Decades of pollution, overfishing and damming of rivers, which prevented us from reaching our home spawning grounds and eliminated a lot of our good nursery habitat, caused our numbers in the wild to become very low.
In 2012, The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration listed us as endangered along parts of the eastern United States. It is illegal to fish for us, and illegal to take our eggs where we are endangered.