14-Foot Atlantic Sturgeon Spotted in Hudson River

Atlantic Sturgeon. Image by NOAA.

The Hudson River, known for its superfund sites, raw sewage and floaters has had a new pleasant surprise.  Researchers using a special sonar system spotted a huge fish on their screen that initially prompted the impossible, an Atlantic sturgeon, estimated at just over 14 feet in length and weighing an estimated 750 pounds according to a story on nationalgeographic.com.. The female fish is believed to be 75 years old was spotted just north of Poughkeepsie in Hyde Park, New York.

“When I first saw it, I said, ‘You’ve got to be kidding me,’” said John A. Madsen, the University Delaware geologist running the sonar equipment.

Madsen were out that day in a boat helping state biologists assess whether the spawning or foraging of Atlantic sturgeon were “being disrupted when commercial vessels dropped anchor in a spot designated as a waiting area to manage ship traffic,”. The anchorage, established in 1999, was in a stretch of the Hudson that happened to be one of the most important spawning grounds. Madsen has extensive experiencing using the sonar system “in sturgeon habitat elsewhere along the Atlantic Coast and in the Republic of Georgia, home to half a dozen species of sturgeon, all deeply endangered.”

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They’re born in fresh water like the Hudson and East River, but spend the majority of their lived in the ocean, only coming back to fresh water to spawn.

According to the DEC, The Atlantic sturgeon was once a major commercial fishery. This fishery was so productive that Atlantic sturgeon were once referred to as “Albany beef” as they were a common source of protein throughout the Hudson Valley. Unfortunately, due to over-fishing and their susceptibility to getting caught, their populations collapsed and have been slow to recover. The population was also destroyed by demand for their eggs, which were valued as high-quality caviar, known as the “black gold rush”.  Atlantic sturgeon is protected, currently listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act and are illegal to possess.

Are you happy to see these massive fish back in the Hudson?

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