The Suwannee River has the most sturgeon, with a population of 10,000 fish.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service estimates the sturgeon population on the Choctawhatchee (in the Florida Panhandle) is 3,500 and in the nearby Apalachicola River, close to 1,000. The Yellow River has an estimated 1,000 fish. Fewer than 500 are found in the Escambia River.

Adult fish spend eight to nine months each year in the river spawning and then return to the Gulf during the coolest months.

Gulf sturgeon can get quite big, exceeding 8 feet and 200 pounds.
They have five rows of rock-hard scutes along their sides, back and belly. When sturgeon and boaters collide, the results can be devastating.

People have been injured in accidental collisions with the jumping sturgeon. Just one person getting hurt is too many. FWC wants people to be aware the sturgeon are back in the Suwannee, and the risk of injury to boaters does exist.

These collisions aren't attacks. The fish are simply doing what they have been doing for millions of years ... jumping. They aren't targeting boaters. Biologists are unsure why sturgeon jump. To report sturgeon collisions, call 888-404-FWCC (3922).

What’s the best course of action for avoiding a collision? We recommend boaters reduce their speed to reduce the risk of impact and to give people more time to react if they do encounter a jumping sturgeon. The FWC also recommends that all boaters wear their life jackets.

FWC officers will be on water patrol during the summer months in a continued effort to educate boaters about these jumping fish. FWC recommends going slow to reduce the risk of impact and to have more reaction time if a jumping sturgeon is encountered and all boaters are encouraged to wear their life jackets.

State and federal laws protect sturgeon, just like bald eagles, panthers and sea turtles. It is illegal to harvest Gulf sturgeon.
To report sturgeon collisions, call 888-404-FWCC (3922).

For more information about the Gulf sturgeon, go to and click on “Saltwater.”
26 photos · 12,223 views