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Similarities And Differences Among New York's Sturgeon

Similarities and differences among New York's sturgeon species
Species Description Habitat Reproduction Feeding Population Status/ Comments
Atlantic Sturgeon 6-10 ft. long (up to 14 ft)

50-200 pounds (up to 800 lbs.)

Olive green to blue-black on back and upper sides, white on belly
Young sturgeon spend the first 2-7 years in large freshwater streams

Adult sturgeon spend the bulk of their lives at sea, returning to freshwater to spawn
Spawn April-June

Anadromous; runs up freshwater river and streams to broadcast eggs upstream from the salt front. Males move into the river first

Eggs are sticky and attach to stones and vegetation

Females reach sexual maturity at 18-19 years old when they are 6-8 ft. and over 70 lbs. Males reach maturity at 12 years when the are 3.5-6.5 feet long.
Uses barbels to locate food

Eat a variety of organisms including worms, amphipods, isopods, midge larvae, plants and small fishes
Largest of New York's sturgeon

Lives up to 60+ years

In New York found in the deepest portions of the Hudson River, occasionally found as far north as Albany

Prior to 1900 were abundant in the Hudson River estuary especially south of Hyde Park

So abundant, were nicknamed "Albany beef". Numbers are down considerably since then
Lake Sturgeon 3-5 ft. long (up to 7 ft.)

10-80 pounds (up to 300 lbs.)

Adults are dull gray with scutes same color as body; with clear green on lower parts of body and head

Angular and elongate snout; wide mouth

Four barbels

Bony plates absent along anal fin
Primarily found in freshwater lakes and large rivers. Prefers areas with clean sand, gravel, or rock bottoms.

Can also occur in slightly brackish water.
Spawns in spring (May-June) in areas of clean, large rubble such as on windswept rocky shores of islands and in rapids in streams

Prior to spawning, adult fish form groups in deep holes near the spawning site; fish sometimes seem leaping out of the water

Eggs are scattered by currents and stock to logs and rocks

Female lake sturgeon reach maturity at 14-23 years old; males mature at 8-19 years. Females only spawn every 4-6 years
Uses barbels to locate food

Including: leaches, snails, clams, other invertebrates, small fish, and even algae
New York status: threatened. Lives up to 80-100 years old; one fish in Canada was 154 years old.

In New York, lake sturgeon have been collected in the St. Lawrence River, Lake Ontario, Niagara River, Lake Erie, Lake Champlain, Cayuga Lake, Seneca and Cayuga canals, and the Grasse, Oswego & Oswegatchie rivers.

Once abundant they were considered a trash fish; but as value for caviar, smoked meat, and isinglass became know the fishery exploded. In addition, pollution and construction of dams affected sturgeon and population numbers plummeted. Lake sturgeon are now protected
Shortnose Sturgeon Rarely exceed 3.5 feet and 14 pounds

Olive yellow to gray or bluish on back; milky-white to dark yellow on belly

Short, blunt, conical snout, large mouth

Four barbels

Bony plates absent along anal fin
Occurs in estuaries and large coastal rivers Spawns April-May

Semi-anadromous; migrates up the Hudson River from its mid-Hudson overwintering areas to scatter eggs in freshwater

Spawns over rubble bottom with some gravel and large rocks; newly-hatched fry are poor swimmers and drift with the currents along the bottom

Females first spawn at age 10, males at age 9. Females spawn every third year and males every other year
Uses barbels to locate food. Eats sludge worms, aquatic insect larvae, plans, snails, shrimp and crayfish New York status: endangered.

Smallest of New York's sturgeon

Lives up to 65+ years old in New York. It is found in the lower portion of the Hudson River from the southern tip of Manhattan upriver to the Federal Dam at Troy

Protected by law

Combination of factors is responsible for population declines; pollution, construction of dams, demands for sturgeon meat and caviar

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