The Gulf Sturgeon (Acipenser oxyrinchus desotoi) is a subspecies of atlantic sturgeon (Acipenser oxyrhynchus oxyrinchus) distributed from the Suwanee River, Florida to the Mississippi River and Gulf of Mexico. Juvenile Gulf Sturgeon remain in their natal streams for approximately two years before joining the adults in their migrations between salt and freshwater environments. Males attain sexual maturity between 7 and 12 years old, with females reaching sexual maturity between 8 and 17 years of age. Gulf Sturgeon usually spawn in their natal river over hard substrate and downstream of a spring or upwelling.
Adult Gulf Sturgeon likely eat solely during the winter months while in saltwater environments, which leads to noticeable weight increases during the winter followed by moderate weight loss during the summer months. Their diet consists of mollusks, grass shrimp, worms, isopods, and amphipods. Gulf Sturgeon can attain weights up to 90 kg and reach lengths of 2 m, which does nothing to impede their fascinating jumping behavior. This behavior is believed to maintain group cohesion, and typically occurs between July and August and again during the beginning of the winter feeding period. Gulf Sturgeon typically live for 20-25 years but some have been known to reach 60 years of age. The Gulf Sturgeon was listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act in 1991.
Photo Credit: Delaware State University – Aquatic Sciences