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Sturgeon

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Virginia State Parks
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Just imagine this.

There. At the bottom of the river.

There’s a 7-and-½-foot-long, 170-pound, armor-covered behemoth. Its brown, sandpaper-like hide has sharp bony plates along its back. Its fins are large, and its tail is just like a shark’s. And its dark eyes regard you suspiciously as it flexes its blubbery, sucker mouth and the catfish-like whiskers on its chin. The giant prehistoric-looking animal uses its snout to root around the sandy Chesapeake Bay bottom before lumbering away.

For some of us, this would be a reason to call the authorities about a slow-moving water dinosaur loose in the Bay. But for any Maryland naturalist, it would be an incredible reason to celebrate.

Unmistakably, you’d have just seen an Atlantic sturgeon, thought perhaps extinct from Chesapeake Bay waters. But in the last few years, scientists have found them still living in the Bay. Naturalists around the state have been cheering on their resurgence. There’s reason to hope that this creature can rebound and again become a plentiful part of our waterways.

W. Brooks Paternotte took the helm of Irvine Nature Center as executive director in July 2013 and immediately began building on the strong 35-year foundation. Brooks is a Baltimore native who was a teacher, coach, advisor, dean and Head of the Middle School during his 13 years at Boys’ Latin School in Baltimore. He is also an instructor and ambassador of the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) and is a Leave No Trace Master, as well as an avid outdoorsman and a features writer for FlyLife Magazine.
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