From Philly and the Pa. suburbs to South Jersey and Delaware, what would you like WHYY News to cover? Let us know!
The Atlantic sturgeon has been around for 70 million years — predating the dinosaurs. These monumental fish with shark-like fins even survived the Chicxulub asteroid, which caused the great extinction event at the end of the Cretaceous Period.
But the species has become endangered, threatened by habitat loss, dams, poor water quality and vessel strikes. In the Delaware River, there are only about 200 estimated sturgeon left.
To mark the 50th anniversary of the Endangered Species Act, WHYY’s Maiken Scott and The Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University will host an event on Thursday evening to discuss the landmark law.
The discussion, which takes place at the Academy, will highlight the importance of researching and protecting the sturgeon and other vulnerable species.
“I think that sturgeons and these other endangered species are a reflection of our environment. And, if we want to have a healthy lifestyle, if we want to live on a healthy planet, we need to maintain those species,” said Dewayne Fox, a fisheries professor at Delaware State University, who will speak at the event.
“And, if something that has been around for in excess of 70 million years is threatened with extinction within a century and a half, we need to ask ourselves, ‘What’s the problem?’”
The 14-foot-long fish was found in as many as 38 rivers throughout eastern North America for millions of years, including in the Delaware River.
However, their numbers diminished drastically following the caviar rush in the late 1800s. At one time, the Delaware River was the largest producer of sturgeon in the world and supplied the global demand for the delicacy.
The species, which can weigh up to 800 pounds, have since been impacted by poor water quality and vessel strikes.