Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Atlantic Sturgeon

This is not the normal sort of post that I make in this blog. In fact, some may even find this post a bit distasteful. For that matter, I find this post a bit distasteful. Most of my posts deal with cultural history in one form or another. I tend not to stray too far into natural history because there are others who do a much better job at this sort of thing. In this case, there seems to be an alarming trend developing on the waterfront in front of one of our museums.

Over the past three weeks there have been four dead Atlantic sturgeon wash up on the shore of the Annapolis Basin between the O'Dell House Museum and the Annapolis Royal Wharf. In itself I may not have thought too much about this. Fish, even large prehistoric looking fish, die of natural causes. What does make me wonder is that these fish all seem to be damaged in some way. Two of the fish that were found a couple of weeks ago were missing their heads. The fish which was found earlier today (top image) was missing the back half of its body. Add to these the two sturgeon which were found dead in this same location last year and there is something that just doesn't smell right (in addition to the large rotting fish).

By the standards of Atlantic sturgeon these fish appear to be mere youngsters. This species can live for up to 60 years and reach over 18 feet long and 800 pounds. Fossil records first show sturgeon living almost 200 million years ago. These animals really are a living fossil. Even in the somewhat decomposed form which we are seeing in front of the museum they are an impressive looking fish. The large bone plates running along the sides and back of the fish make them an impressive sight.

I would love to know for certain what is going on with our sturgeon. Perhaps this is a natural phenomenon. Whatever it is, I am sad to see these magnificent fish rotting on the shore.

All for now,


  1. Probably caused by the turbines in the Tidal Generating Station,
    If you want further information, the subject was covered in the Dec 1997 newsletter of the ANNAPOLIS FIELD NATURALISTS’ SOCIETY

  2. Just found a 3-4 ft Atlantic Sturgeon on the shore of Eastern Passage (Nova Scotia). Looked in perfect condition and was much pretty dried up. It really did look prehistoric. Pity that the only one I've ever seen was dead.