The Atlantic Sturgeon is the east coast's version of the white sturgeon of the Pacific. Topping out around 800 pounds and 14 feet long, this fish was once the king of our great eastern rivers. Sadly, damming of rivers, agriculture, pollution, and overharvest have reduced Atlantic Sturgeon populations to a shadow of their former glory; this species has gone extinct, become endangered, or been given a threatened status all throughout its range. A subspecies of Atlantic Sturgeon called the Gulf Sturgeon occurs in the Gulf of Mexico and spawns in its tributary streams in the US states of Alabama, Mississippi, and Florida.
Protection of this species under the Endangered Species Act is critical to restore the habitat this species needs to survive. With good stewardship and hard work, it is hoped that this species can once again become a common part of the great east coast fisheries. The slow growth and long onset of maturity shown by this species will make restoration efforts a very long-term effort. But if Lake Sturgeon restoration in the Midwest can succeed, then so can they.
A disjunct population of this fish once lived in the Baltic region of Europe as well; although the last Atlantic Sturgeon caught in Europe was in Estonia in 1996, reintroduction efforts are underway.