The federal government has officially declared the Chesapeake Bay’s Atlantic sturgeon – a bony, ancient-looking fish that has been around since dinosaurs roamed the earth – an endangered species.

Atlantic sturgeon

(Image courtesy Virginia Institute of Marine Science)

NOAA Fisheries Service officially listed the Bay’s Atlantic sturgeon population under the federal Endangered Species Act. The endangered listing will prompt action to help reduce bycatch of sturgeon and other species by commercial fisheries. It is already illegal to fish for, catch or keep Atlantic sturgeon.

Atlantic sturgeon is a slow-growing fish that relies on the Chesapeake Bay and other estuaries to spawn. Historic fishing records indicate that sturgeon used to be abundant. However, increased demand for sturgeon caviar in the late 19th century combined with damming and pollution led to a population collapse.

For more information about the endangered species listing, visit NOAA Fisheries Service’s website.

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Chesapeake Program

The Atlantic sturgeon passes through the Chesapeake Bay during the spring when it goes to spawn in the James and York rivers in Virginia, and then again in the fall when it leaves to return to ocean waters. At one time, it was found throughout the Bay and all of its freshwater rivers, but since it was declared to be endangered in 2012, it is seen very rarely. For more information: https://www.chesapeakebay.net/S=0/fieldguide/critter/atlantic_sturgeon.

Old Road

where do they live in or around the bay?

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