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Seven-foot sturgeon found in Connecticut River

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Photo by Carleen Gerber used with permission. Photo by Carleen Gerber used with permission.

State environmental officials are investigating the discovery of a 7-foot Atlantic sturgeon that washed up on the shores of the Connecticut River in Lyme.

Carleen Gerber, a Reverend at First Congregational Church of Old Lyme took photos of the huge fish on the bank of the river.

Tom Savoy, a biologist with the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, tells WFSB that the 100-pound fish, an endangered species, is the largest found in the river.

It was discovered last Saturday, near Elys Ferry Road.

Sturgeon are primitive-looking fishes, with a heterocercal tail (the upper lobe is much longer than the lower lobe) and a body covered with 5 rows of large bony plates. These heavy, cylindrical fish have an elongated, bony snout, with a tube-like mouth located on the underside of the head. The mouth protrudes several inches when the fish is feeding.

Savoy says the fish was a female, about 15 years old. He's not sure how it died. Atlantic Sturgeon could live up to 75 years old and grow up to 15 feet long.

Sturgeon are among the oldest living species of fish. They have retained many primitive characteristics, suggesting what fish may have looked like during the age of the dinosaurs.

Atlantic sturgeon range along the entire east coast of North America, from the St. John River in New Brunswick, Canada, to the St. Johns River along the east coast of Florida, according to the state DEEP.   Atlantic sturgeon native to Connecticut waters are believed to be extinct.

During the summer, juvenile Atlantic sturgeon can occasionally be found in the lower portions of the three major rivers in Connecticut. However, these are sexually immature fish from the Hudson River that only stay a few months before heading back out to sea.

The size of Atlantic sturgeon at sexual maturity is approximately 6 feet. Females are generally older than males of a similar size and are thought to live longer and grow larger than males.

Atlantic sturgeon of all sizes are seen or captured in Long Island Sound. The Sound may be an important feeding or resting area on the way to and from spawning areas. Occasionally adult-sized (6 or more inches) sturgeon are seen in the rivers of Connecticut. It is believed that these fish are simply foraging or perhaps lost, having made a wrong turn.

Sturgeon are occasionally seen jumping clear out of the water (breaching). It is unknown why sturgeon breach, although it has been suggested that they may be attempting to rid themselves of parasites.


Copyright 2014 MyFoxNY/The Associated Press.

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