Do you remember visiting Horn Point Laboratory (HPL) and seeing the Atlantic sturgeon? Although you can no longer visit these amazing fish here, you can now visit them at the New York Aquarium!
These sturgeon, all of which are over 100 lbs, were captured in fisheries in the Chesapeake Bay prior to 2011. Horn Point Laboratory and the Maryland Department of Natural Resources Fisheries Service hoped to breed the fish here. Although the program was never successful in rearing young from these wild sturgeon, over the years we learned a lot about Atlantic sturgeon and their presence in the Chesapeake Bay. Due to budgetary challenges Maryland DNR was forced to close the sturgeon program late in 2018.
Since 2012, Atlantic sturgeon have been listed as threatened and endangered under the Endangered Species Act. The sturgeon at the New York Aquarium are held there under the authority of a scientific research and enhancement permit issued to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service by the National Marine Fisheries Service Office of Protected Resources. These partnerships present an opportunity for the public to see these incredible fish up close; hopefully inspiring the next generation of scientists and conservationists to continue to protect them in the wild. Fifteen years ago, I handled my first Atlantic sturgeon, and I am still in awe of them.
Written by Erin Markin, Fishery Biologist with the NOAA National Marine Fisheries Service, Office of Protected Resources, Permits and Conservation Division. A Faculty Research Assistant at Horn Point Laboratory from 2003-2016, she completed her Ph.D. in 2017. Her dissertation was on Atlantic sturgeon.