A living fossil washed up on the shores of the Connecticut River on Saturday, and wildlife officials are hopeful that the discovery marks a resurgence in one of Connecticut’s rarest fish species. According to WFSB, the seven-foot sturgeon was collected by biologists from the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP), who later determined the fish was in fact an immature female carrying eggs.
At the age of 15, the deceased sturgeon was too young to have laid eggs, but it does pose the question of whether or not the species is returning to the Connecticut River. The DEEP lists the Atlantic sturgeon as threatened, although fish native to Connecticut waters are believed to be locally extinct. Atlantic sturgeon once ranged along the entire east coast of North America from New Brunswick, Canada all the way down to the west coast of Florida and into the Gulf of Mexico. One of world’s oldest fish species, the sturgeon did not acclimate well to the expansion of human development. Overfishing and habitat loss were the primary reasons behind the sturgeon’s disappearance.
Even though the fish are considered extinct in Connecticut, immature sturgeon can still be found near Long Island Sound. Researchers believe that the area is a valuable feeding and resting area for the fish. New York’s Hudson River is the only waterway in New England with a spawning sturgeon population.
With Saturday’s discovery, biologists are hoping to soon see mature fish laying eggs in the Connecticut River.
“That would be like the holy grail, finding evidence of that again,” DEEP biologist Tom Savoy told WITC.
You can see the full interview with Savoy below: