#1: 4/20/2013: A 4 foot sturgeon found on the beach just north of Petersen’s in Upper Nyack. Tail severed.
The Atlantic and short-nosed sturgeon that live in the Hudson River are a primitive species that's been around since before the dinosaurs. They're now endangered. In order to build the new bridge, the National Marine Fisheries Service signed off on what’s called an Incidental Take Permit that allows the five years of construction to kill a total of four sturgeon. That is, hit by a boat propeller, struck by a barge or a pile-driver, concussed by the underwater shock waves from pile drivers. I wondered if this was one of those four.
I reported the fish and was contacted by New York State's Department of Environmental Conservation and by the Department of Transportation's environmental manager for the bridge project.
The conclusion was that the sturgeon had been dead too long to know what killed it. Therefore, it couldn't be counted as one of the four within the permit.
Because of the publicity from this first find, I was contacted about other dead sturgeon in the immediate area of the bridge construction.
In mid-June, I went to see the remains of a sturgeon right across the river from where I live.
5 ½ foot (approx.) dead Atlantic Sturgeon on the public beach at the Philipse Manor Swim Club in Sleepy Hollow ( on the east shore just north of Kingsland Point Park and the Tarrytown Lighthouse). The fish appears to have been cut in half - the spine is severed. The carcass is partly decomposed.
Again, the fish had been dead too long to determine cause of death. Therefore, not counted as one of the four permitted.
In early July, I walked to the foot of my hill to see another dead sturgeon on the beach.
#3: 7/10/13: A 4 ½ foot sturgeon was found on the beach just south of Petersen’s in Upper Nyack. No external wounds
Nine days later, I heard a report of (did not see myself) a fourth sturgeon floating in the waters off Croton Point, at the northern end of the Tappan Zee.
#4: 7/19/13: a 3 foot sturgeon found west of Croton Point. Tail partially severed and gills missing
Finally, in mid-August, I photographed a sturgeon that the DEC had found floating south of the bridge project.
#5: 8/19/13: A 5 ½ foot sturgeon found by DEC survey boat and brought to Nyack launch ramp. No external wounds
Like all the others, it had been dead too long to determine cause of death. It was not counted as a construction fatality.
In the more than thirty years I've lived by the Tappan Zee before bridge construction began, I've found a total of three dead sturgeon. In the past five months, there have been five dead fish.
I understand the inability to determine cause of death, but what, then, does the Incidental Kill Permit mean? If the fish sink, or drift, or aren't found speared on a propeller, how would a sturgeon mortality ever be officially connected to bridge construction?
According to the Acting Regional Administrator of the National Marine Fisheries, the sturgeon kill numbers are “binding;” if more than four are killed, there has to be a “reinitiation” of the permit to build.
I'm concerned that this summer's deaths have shown that the permit doesn't effectively protect this ancient, endangered species -- or the Hudson River in general.
Shouldn't construction be halted until an effective, enforceable environmental protection plan is put in place?
Daniel Wolff firstname.lastname@example.org
[If you spot a dead sturgeon -- or have other environmental concerns about the bridge construction -- feel free to contact me. I'll make sure the public hears about it through emails like this. Also report to:
· NYSDEC Hudson River Fisheries Unit: 845-256-3071
· DEC Region 3: 845-256-3000
· U.S. Coast Guard: 718-354-4122]