The Shortnose Sturgeon (Acipenser brevirostrum) is a small species of sturgeon distributed from the St. Johns River in Florida to the Saint John River in New Brunswick, Canada.  Within its range, individuals of this species are typically found in river mouths, lakes, and estuaries characterized by a maximum salinity of 30-31 ppt.  Three landlocked populations exist as a result of dams, potentially indicating that shortnose sturgeon do not require saline water.  Males and females reach sexual maturity at different times in different parts of their range, with the onset of maturity occurring earlier in the southern part of their distribution.  Spawning occurs in fresh water over gravel or cobble substrate.  The average lifespan of a Shortnose Sturgeon is roughly 30 years for males and 65 years for females.  Juveniles typically feed on benthic invertebrates and crustaceans, while adults prefer mollusks and crustaceans.

 

Historically, Shortnose Sturgeon were an important source of meat for Native Americans and early settlers in Maryland and Virginia. In fact, the first “harvest” sent back to England from the Jamestown Settlement in Virginia was sturgeon meat (likely shortnose) and caviar. Shortnose Sturgeon populations began experiencing noticeable declines in the 1800s.  By the1900s, overfishing for Shortnose Sturgeon meat and caviar, habitat alterations, and water pollution ultimately led to their listing as endangered under the U.S. Endangered Species Act in 1967.  The species is listed as a species of special concern under the Species At Risk Act in Canada.  Today, Shortnose Sturgeon are still considered rare.