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Acipenser oxyrinchus  Mitchill, 1815

Atlantic sturgeon
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| Native range | All suitable habitat | Year 2100 |
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Acipenser oxyrinchus   AquaMaps   Data sources: GBIF OBIS
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Image of Acipenser oxyrinchus (Atlantic sturgeon)
Acipenser oxyrinchus
Picture by Burkhead, N.

Classification / Names Common names | Synonyms | Catalog of Fishes (gen., sp.) | ITIS | CoL | WoRMS | Cloffa

Actinopterygii (ray-finned fishes) > Acipenseriformes (Sturgeons and paddlefishes) > Acipenseridae (Sturgeons) > Acipenserinae
Etymology: Acipenser: Latin, acipenser = sturgeon, 1853 (Ref. 45335).   More on author: Mitchill.

Environment / Climate / Range Ecology

Marine; freshwater; brackish; demersal; anadromous (Ref. 51243); depth range ? - 46 m (Ref. 4639).   Subtropical; 56°N - 10°S, 102°W - 33°W (Ref. 54265)

Length at first maturity / Size / Weight / Age

Maturity: Lm 190.0, range 183 - 243.8 cm
Max length : 403 cm TL male/unsexed; (Ref. 26938); 430.0 cm TL (female); common length :250 cm TL (female); max. published weight: 0.00 g; max. reported age: 60 years (Ref. 39404)

Short description Morphology | Morphometrics

Dorsal spines (total): 0; Dorsal soft rays (total): 30-46; Anal spines: 0; Anal soft rays: 22 - 32. Elongate fish, pentagonal in cross section and shark-like fins (Ref. 26938). Double row of pre anal shields. Presence of a soft fontanelle. Bony shields are oval. Carina on dorsal shields do not have a conspicuous hook. Head and back bluish-black and lower surface whitish (Ref. 37032). Snout long, sharply V-shaped. 2 pairs of short, slender barbels in transverse line midway between end of snout and anterior edge of mouth (Ref. 4639). Viscera pale (Ref. 7251). Presence of 4 small scutes, usually as 2 pairs between anal fin and caudal fulcrum (Ref. 86798).

Distribution Countries | FAO areas | Ecosystems | Occurrences | Point map | Introductions | Faunafri

Western Atlantic: Hamilton River, Labrador, Newfoundland, Canada to northeastern Florida, USA. Occurs occasionally in Bermuda and French Guiana (Ref. 7251). Northern Gulf of Mexico (Ref. 26938). In Europe: Baltic Sea. Landlocked populations in Lakes Ladoga and Onega (Russia), both now extirpated. Occasionally recorded from Great Britain and North Sea in Elbe drainage (Ref. 59043). Recent research revealed that this species existed in the Baltic Sea, but is now extirpated (Ref. 83384, 83385). Near threatened globally, but extirpated in Europe (Ref. 59043). International trade restricted (CITES II, since 28.6.79).

Biology     Glossary (e.g. epibenthic)

Anadromous species. Occurs solitarily or in small groups; inhabits shallow waters of continental shelves. At the sea, it occurs in coastal and estuarine areas on soft bottom (Ref. 59043) down to a depth of 50 m (Ref. 89115). Adults are highly migratory while at sea (Ref. 57533) and make long migrations along the coast (Ref. 59043). They forage mainly in brackish waters (Ref. 59043). Ascend large rivers to spawn (Ref. 59043). Juveniles may remain in fresh or brackish water until 2-5 years of age or 76-91.5 cm long (Ref. 4639, 59043). Today most individuals do not exceed 250 cm length. Tagging studies have shown that this species may move distances up to 1,450 km (Ref. 89119). Used smoked and fresh (Ref. 37032). Near threatened globally, but extirpated in Europe due to massive overfishing, damming, river regulation and pollution (Ref. 59043).

Life cycle and mating behavior Maturity | Reproduction | Spawning | Eggs | Fecundity | Larvae

Matures at increasing ages with increasing latitude (Ref. 88171). Both sexes do not spawn yearly and spawning intervals may vary according to area. In the St. Lawrence River, males spawn every 1-5 years, females every 3-5 years (Ref. 89103). Adults from the sea begin to ascend the lower reaches of large rivers in spring with the majority ascending immediately prior to spawning. Spawning occurs between March and August (Ref. 59043), when water temperature is 13.3-17.8 °C (Ref. 89118). Spawning occurs over bedrock, boulders or gravel bottoms, in depths exceeding 10 m at current velocities of 0.5-0.8 m/s (Ref. 59043, 89103). Exact time of spawning depends on temperature (Ref. 26938). Per female 0.4-8 million eggs may be spawned (Ref. 45706, 84845, 89137). Eggs demersal, sticking to stones, measuring 2.55 mm in diameter and hatching in 1 week at 17.8 °C (Ref. 4639, 9980). Adults return to the sea after spawning (Ref. 59043). Sturgeons in general have a high capacity for hybridization and most species are able to cross-breed (Ref. 89103, 89117).

Main reference Upload your references | References | Coordinator | Collaborators

Page, L.M. and B.M. Burr, 1991. A field guide to freshwater fishes of North America north of Mexico. Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston. 432 p. (Ref. 5723)

IUCN Red List Status (Ref. 96402)

CITES (Ref. 94142)

Threat to humans

  Harmless




Human uses

Fisheries: commercial
FAO(fisheries: species profile; publication : search) | FisheriesWiki | Sea Around Us

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Estimates of some properties based on models

Phylogenetic diversity index (Ref. 82805):  PD50 = 0.5000   [Uniqueness, from 0.5 = low to 2.0 = high].
Trophic Level (Ref. 69278):  3.4   ±0.50 se; Based on food items.
Resilience (Ref. 69278):  Very Low, minimum population doubling time more than 14 years (K=0.03; tm=7-34; tmax=60; Fec=1.03 million).
Vulnerability (Ref. 59153):  Very high vulnerability (85 of 100) .
Price category (Ref. 80766):   Unknown.