HOLMBERG: Giant prehistoric fish return to downtown Richmond

Posted at 12:11 AM, Sep 25, 2012
and last updated 2012-09-25 12:53:28-04

RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR)--Sightings of sturgeon upriver from the 14th Street (Mayo) Bridge brought nature lovers out Monday to try to catch a glimpse of the giant, prehistoric fish that saved the Jamestown settlers from starvation.

Ten, 20, 40 years ago, it was thought the Atlantic sturgeon would never return to Richmond to spawn. They were placed on the endangered species list.

Fisherfolk have been seeing them splashing downriver in recent years,  leaping out of the water, as long as dolphins.

But all the way downtown, to the fall line?

“Isn’t it wonderful to see this kind of restoration,” said Ralph White, the James River naturalist. “Fish bigger than you are, in the capital of  Virginia.”

The river is cleaner now. And a federal grant and donated stone from Luckstone improved the sturgeon spawning habitat in the James.

CBS 6 joined nature lovers on the Mayo Bridge Monday afternoon, hoping to capture a glimpse of these scary-looking fishes that are harmless to humans and produce delicious caviar.

Watch our video report to see what happened. The sturgeon should continue spawning for the next several days.