Hudson River Animal of the Month: Atlantic Sturgeon

Nov 22, 2020

About the Atlantic Sturgeon

The Atlantic Sturgeon, known scientifically as Acipenser oxyrinchus, is a majestic and unique species that inhabits the Hudson River in New York. This ancient fish has managed to survive for millions of years, and it holds a special place in the ecosystem of the river.

Physical Characteristics

The Atlantic Sturgeon is a large, prehistoric-looking fish that can reach lengths of up to 14 feet and weigh over 800 pounds. Its body is elongated and covered in bony plates, known as scutes, which act as protective armor. Its coloration varies from grayish-brown to dark olive, blending perfectly with the muddy riverbed.

Habitat and Migration Patterns

These remarkable creatures can be found in the Hudson River estuary, where the freshwater mixes with the saltwater of the Atlantic Ocean. They prefer deep channels and areas with sandy or muddy bottoms, where they can search for their favorite prey.

Atlantic Sturgeons are also known for their incredible migratory behavior. They navigate upstream to spawn during the spring months, traveling hundreds of miles against the river's current. Additionally, they are known to swim as far as the Gulf of Mexico, making them truly remarkable travelers.

Feeding and Diet

The diet of the Atlantic Sturgeon mainly consists of small bottom-dwelling organisms, such as worms, crustaceans, and mollusks. With their long, tubular snouts, they are well-equipped to search for food in the sediment of the riverbed. Their sensitive barbels help them detect prey hidden within the substrate.

Conservation Efforts

Due to overfishing, habitat degradation, and pollution, the Atlantic Sturgeon population has significantly declined. Recognizing the importance of preserving this species, numerous conservation efforts have been put into action.

The State of New York has implemented strict regulations to protect the Atlantic Sturgeon, including fishing restrictions and the designation of critical habitats. Additionally, organizations such as the Hudson River Foundation and environmental agencies actively work to restore and conserve the sturgeon population through water quality improvement and habitat restoration projects.


The Atlantic Sturgeon is a fascinating creature with a rich history and ecological significance. Its survival and well-being are crucial for maintaining the biodiversity of the Hudson River. By understanding and respecting these majestic creatures, we can ensure their continued existence for generations to come.


  • Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History
  • Hudson River Foundation
  • New York State Department of Environmental Conservation