ATLANTIC STURGEON Acipenser oxyrhynchus Mitchill, 1814
DISTRIBUTION AND ABUNDANCE:Native - State Endangered.
In Massachusetts, the species is very rare and recent freshwater records are limited to the Merrimack and Taunton rivers. In the mid-late 1970s, a single, 8-foot long sturgeon was seen at the base of the Essex Dam, Lawrence on two occasions in late June. Recent surveys (1988-91) by the Massachusetts Cooperative Fisheries Unit have studied and radio tagged a few 30-inch fish in the vicinity of Haverhill. Whether these fish are part of a Merrimack population or just transients is unknown at this time. Historic records indicate that they reproduced in the Taunton River and a juvenile was found thereby the Cooperative Unit researchers in 1991. Specimens are still found in small numbers along the coast and are occasionally taken by trawlers. There are also old records that indicate that this species most likely entered the Charles, Parker, and other smaller rivers.
Merrimack River – New Hampshire and Maine
Historical reports of Atlantic sturgeon in the Merrimack River include a 104 kg sturgeon taken at Newburyport on September 14, 1938, while netting for blueback herring (Hoover 1938). An intensive gill net survey was conducted in the Merrimack River from 1987-1990 to determine annual movements, spawning, summering, and wintering areas of shortnose and Atlantic
sturgeon (Kieffer and Kynard 1993). Thirty-six Atlantic sturgeon were captured (70-156 cm TL); most being under 100 cm TL. One dead Atlantic sturgeon was found on June 30, 1990 at the shortnose spawning area in Haverhill, MA (between rkm 31-32). Of 23 subadult Atlantic sturgeon sonically tracked in the river, 11 left the river within seven days, and the rest left by September or October of each year (Kieffer and Kynard 1993). Fish captured in one year were
not observed in the river during subsequent years. On June 9, 1998, a 24 inch (estimated length) Atlantic sturgeon was captured and released in the Merrimack River by the USFWS personnel, who were conducting a contaminant study on the river (D. Major, USFWS, Pers. Comm. 2006).
This information provides no evidence of a spawning population of Atlantic sturgeon in the Merrimack River, although it seems that the estuary is used as a nursery area (B. Kynard, Conte Anadromous Fish Research Center, Pers. Comm. 1998).
Jerome et al. (1965) stated that the Merrimack River had a very important Atlantic sturgeon fishery during colonial days and that it lasted until the late 1800s. In the early 1600s, the Merrimack River was known as one of the two best sturgeon fishing areas in the colonies. In 1882, Massachusetts passed a law enacting a minimum 30 cm (12 inch) stretched mesh for taking sturgeon. In 1887, only two tons were taken by ‘visiting fishermen,’ and it was generally
considered that the fishery was eliminated.
table 3 on page 16.....
Weight = 5.46 x 10**-6 X FL**3.10 Weight in kg, TL (total length) in cm
so....FL= 5.5ft - 168cm...Weight = 43Kg = 95lbs
6ft - 183 cm - 56.2kgs - 124lbs!