First verified occurrence of the shortnose sturgeon (Acipenser brevirostrum) in the James River, Virginia


Matthew Balazik
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The shortnose sturgeon (Acipenser brevirostrum) is an endangered species of fish that inhabits the continental slope of the Atlantic Ocean from New Brunswick, Canada, to Florida. This species has not been documented previously in the freshwater portion of any river of the Chesapeake Bay, except in the Potomac River. On 13 March 2016, a shortnose sturgeon was captured in the freshwater portion of the James River at river kilometer 48. The fish had a fork length of about 75 cm and was likely mature. Genetic analysis confirmed the fish was a shortnose sturgeon and was assigned to the Chesapeake Bay–Delaware population segment. Regardless of whether this shortnose sturgeon was part of a remnant Chesapeake Bay population or whether its capture there is an indicator of an expansion of range from the Delaware River by way of the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal, dedicated research is needed to determine the status of the shortnose sturgeon inhabiting the Chesapeake Bay.