Maryland Fish and Wildlife Conservation Office
Northeast Region



Reports & Publications

Fish Facts





Shortnose Sturgeon

Acipenser brevirostrum

Life Historyshortnose sturgeon

  • Shortnose sturgeon have an anadromous life cycle in which they migrate upstream into freshwater rivers and streams along the Atlantic coast to spawn.
  • Unlike other anadromous fish, shortnose sturgeon do not make long migrations. Most adults remain in tidal rivers, estuaries, and near-shore coastal habitat.
  • After reaching sexual maturity at 6 to 12 years of age, female shortnose sturgeon spawn every 3 to 5 years. Males reach maturity at 2 to 5 years and spawn each year.
  • Adult shortnose sturgeon are considerably smaller than the closely related Atlantic sturgeon, with a maximum length of only 143 cm (4 ft. 8 in.). However, their mouths are bigger! The width of the shortnose sturgeon's mouth (inside the lips) is greater than 60 percent of the distance between the eyes while the width of the Atlantic sturgeon mouth is less than 50 percent of the distance between the eyes.
  • Shortnose sturgeon are a long lived species which have been known to survive over 60 years.


  • Little information exists about the historic abundance of shortnose sturgeon. Due to their similarity in range and appearance to Atlantic sturgeon, they were not routinely distinguished as a separate species in catch records.
  • Due to sharp declines, the shortnose sturgeon was listed as endangered in 1967 under the Endangered Species Preservation Act of 1966 (a precursor to the Endangered Species Act of 1973).
  • Nineteen distinct populations have been identified in 25 coastal rivers from New Brunswick to Florida.


  • A recovery plan for shortnose sturgeon was completed in 1998.
  • Due to protection afforded by the Endangered Species Act, some distinct population segments have experienced an increase in numbers. Data published in January of 2007 suggests that the Hudson River population has increased over 400% since 1970 to an estimated 65,000 fish.
  • A status review was initiated by the National Marine Fisheries Service in November of 2007. The status review team will consider whether distinct population segments should be identified and assessed.
Last updated: February 18, 2016
Maryland Fish and Wildlife Conservation Office
Northeast Fisheries Resources Home
Northeast Region Home

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Home Page | Department of the Interior  |  | About the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service  | Accessibility  | Privacy  | Notices  | Disclaimer  | FOIA