Green Sturgeon are among the largest and longest living species found in freshwater, living up to 70 years and weighing up to 350 pounds. They are truly a prehistoric creature, possessing a skeleton that is more cartilage than bone and rows of bony plates for protection rather than scales. Since the age of the dinosaurs, Green Sturgeon have roamed the inshore bays and major rivers of the West Coast, remaining almost entirely unchanged in their appearance for more than 200 million years.
Until recently, Green Sturgeon migrated in huge numbers and now for the first time in its long history, it has slipped quietly towards the brink of extinction. The American Fisheries Society recently released a status review that concludes that the species has declined by 88% throughout most of its range.
Green sturgeon are anadromous; they live much of the time in marine waters, but return to fresh water rivers to spawn. This species is now thought to spawn in only three rivers in the world, the Rogue, the Klamath and the Sacramento. The largest threat for green sturgeon, until very recently, was an almost total lack of information regarding their behavior, life history, and migratory patterns. Decisive action must be taken to preserve the quality and abundance of cold, clean water in our major rivers that this species depends on for survival.
The southern population of green sturgeon is listed as “threatened” on the Endangered Species Act and the northern population is a “species of concern”. The Rogue Riverkeeper program advocates for habitat protection for the southern population in the Coos Bay estuary, which is threatened by the proposed LNG project, as well as for monitoring the northern population in the Rogue Basin.