A 5-foot Atlantic sturgeon took a wrong turn and ended up stranded in a city’s downtown river area, North Carolina rescuers said.
The N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission received a call on Sept. 6 about a large sturgeon “stranded in a small tributary of the Tar River,” officials said in a Sept. 21 news release.
The human-sized fish was found in a portion of the river near downtown Greenville, the commission said.
Only two other Atlantic sturgeon have ever been recorded in the Tar River, according to officials.
“After determining that water quality and environmental conditions were temporarily suitable for the fish, a team consisting of employees from the Wildlife Commission, UNC-Wilmington and NOAA Fisheries met at Green Springs Park to save the fish and begin the relocation process,” the commission said.
They hauled the fish into a large black holding tub on a boat, where they collected its information. The 61-inch fish was so big it didn’t fit entirely in the tub.
The team tagged the sturgeon and took genetic samples, then took it to the nearest boating access at Town Common park in Greenville. They released the fish, which they believe is male, into the Tar River.
Facebook users had lots of thoughts about the operation and how the fish got stuck.
“He zigged when he should have zagged,” one person wrote.
Others were confused. “We have Sturgeon?” one person asked.
Many chimed in with their own suspected sturgeon sightings over the years.
“He was not lost, just taking the scenic route,” one Facebook user commented.
The endangered Atlantic sturgeon lives in rivers and coastal areas from Florida to Canada, according to NOAA. They can grow 14 feet long and live for 25 to 30 years in the Southeast.
Adult sturgeon are born in freshwater, migrate to sea and normally return to where they were born to spawn, NOAA says. They tend to migrate to freshwater rivers to spawn in the late summer and fall in most of the U.S.
Greenville is about 80 miles southeast of Raleigh.