Endangered Florida Fish



Gulf Sturgeon
Gulf Sturgeon
Photo credit: USFWS





To begin: what is a Fish?

A fish is an aquatic vertebrate (has a backbone)

that is cold blooded, has fins, breathes through gills

and may be covered with scales.

There are 27 species of Sturgeon around the world,

and three along the Eastern Coasts of the U.S.

This primeval fish with ancestral

beginnings older than the Dinosaurs,

may date back to as much as 200 million years,

or about the same time as Sharks.


One looking at this remarkable fish would be

reminded of the Alligator Snapping Turtle

which also has a primordial appearance.


The Sturgeon body is covered with bony plates,

 instead of the usual scales of modern fish species,

just one of several physical features

that sets this fish apart from others.

Shortnose Sturgeon

Shortnose Sturgeon
Photo credit: Noel Burkhead


Many Sturgeon, not all, are anadromous, which means

that they live in two worlds, freshwater and seawater

and like the Salmon, they go home to spawn.

Dams blocking the Sturgeon's access to spawning

areas have been a key factor in their decline.

Gulf Sturgeon

Gulf Sturgeon
Photo credit: Noel Burkhead


Our species of Florida Sturgeon call two places home,

the beautiful and boat popular Suwannee River

and Gulf Coastal Region in the Florida Panhandle

and the St. John's River.

Gulf Sturgeon jumping on the Suwannee
Gulf Sturgeon jumping on the Suwannee
Photo credit: Tim Ross


Each summer, they can be seen on the Suwannee

jumping as much as six feet in the air and occasionally,

some boaters have been injured in these displays.

A firm reason for this jumping display is a continued

debate among the scientists who study them.


Sturgeon are bottom dwellers whose diet

consists of insects and mollusks found in their

preferred waters of deep, slow moving rivers,

as well as bays and estuaries.

Shortnosed Sturgeon at surface
Shortnose Sturgeon at Surface
Photo credit: Nancy Haley/NOAA


The Gulf and Shortnose Sturgeon in our area

are listed as either Endangered or Threatened.


Places to learn more:

Earth Justice

Critical Habitat Proposed


Environment News Service

Endangered Sturgeon Returning to Suwannee River



Facts about Gulf Sturgeon


Fish and Wildlife Research Institute

A Comparison of Three Sturgeon Species


Live Science

Save This Ugly Fish


National Geographic

Attacks Over for Now

Giant Jumping Sturgeon

Jumping Sturgeon


Science Daily

Endangered Billfish


Scripps Institution of Oceanography

Decline in Florida's Reef Fish









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Last edited September 11, 2022

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