Aug. 13, 2013
Rivers in real time
It’s rare we have the opportunity to catch a glimpse into the prehistoric past, but the Atlantic sturgeon, a fish that once swam with the dinosaurs, offers just that. It also played an important role in Virginia’s history when it served as a critical food source for the early European colonists in Jamestown, helping them stave off starvation during the grim winter of 1609-1610, also known as “The Starving Time.”
And now, moving forward, the giant prehistoric fish promises to help paint a broader picture of how many elements of the environment connect.
First, however, researchers need to better understand the biology of the fish itself and to partner with others to help restore the population, which has declined significantly in the past 100 years.
In 2012, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration added the Atlantic sturgeon to its Endangered Species List. A mix of overharvesting and the construction of dams that altered its habitat are to blame in part for the decline. Other threats to sturgeon include ship strikes and nets intended for other fish.