How long do they live? Atlantic sturgeons (sometimes called Baltic sturgeons) can live up to 100 years old to the best of our knowledge [1]. Unfortunately this is a critically endangered species.

Where are they found? Atlantic sturgeons used to live in many ocean waters, but now they can only be found in the Eastern Atlantic Ocean. The only spawning population of Atlantic sturgeons are found Garonne drainage in France [2]. The juveniles move out to sea around 2 to 3 years old [3]. See figure 1.

Figure 1. Map of Garonne River.

What do they eat? Smaller fish, mollusks and crustaceans [1].

What do they look like? Amazingly they can grow to be over 19 feet long and weigh nearly 900 pounds [1]. Sadly, Atlantic sturgeons rarely even come close to reaching such amazing sizes thanks to poaching and habitat destruction. See figures 2, 3 and 4.

Figure 2. Atlantic sturgeons are being bred in captivity and released into the wild with the hopes of bringing their numbers back up.
Figure 3. The current population size of Atlantic sturgeons is less than 1000.
Figure 4. The main reason for the near extinction of this species is habitat destruction, pollution and poaching.

How do they reproduce? Atlantic sturgeons are anadromous animals, which means they  reproduce by spawning in fresh water and then migrate back to sea. Males reach sexual maturity from 12 to 14 years old and 16 to 18 years old for females. Females can release anywhere from 200,000 to 6 million eggs. Females also release more eggs as they age, but reproductive senescence has not been studied [4].

How do scientists know how old they are? Size and weight estimations.

So what are we lacking? Currently the nuclear genome of the Atlantic sturgeon has not been sequenced, but there is information on the NCBI website regarding the mitochondrial genome [5]. We need reproductive senescence information and age verification techniques for this species.

Conservation status: Critically endangered. There is a desperate need to stop poaching and to restore the habitat of this amazing creature.

Please drop me an email if you’d like to add to this information or if you see something that needs to be corrected. Thank you.

  1. Fishbase.org. Acipenser sturio. http://www.fishbase.org/summary/2066. Accessed 1/5/2017
  2. Kottelat, M. and J. Freyhof, 2007. Handbook of European freshwater fishes. Publications Kottelat, Cornol and Freyhof, Berlin. 646 pp.
  3. Gesner, J., Williot, P., Rochard, E., Freyhof, J. & Kottelat, M. 2010. Acipenser sturio. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2010: e.T230A13040963.
  4. Encyclopedia of Life. EOL.org. Atlantic sturgeon. Accessed 1/5/2017 http://www.eol.org/pages/206890/details#life_cycle
  5. NCBI. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/genome?term=Acipenser%20sturio[orgn]%20NOT%20genome[PROP]%20AND%20non_genome[filter]