A prehistoric-looking fish washed up on the shore of Revere Beach Monday afternoon.
Erik Haigh lives in Revere and was walking on the beach when he came across the large fish, which was at least 5 feet long and completely out of the water.
“It was huge,” Haigh said in a telephone interview. “It had a strange snout. ... It looked like a dinosaur.”
Haigh said it was stranded on the sand and had a rope wrapped around its tail. It was still alive, so he dragged it back into the water. But the fish didn’t appear to be doing well.
“It wasn’t moving on its own, apart from its gills,” he said.
Haigh posted a photo of the fish on Reddit.com and wrote, “Any idea what fish this is?”
The Reddit community informed him that it appeared to be a sturgeon, which, according to the conservation organization WWF, are among the most endangered species group in the world.
“I didn’t have a clue what kind of fish it was,” said Haigh.
Haigh found it odd that a rope was wrapped around the sturgeon’s tail. He reported it to the state Department of Conservation and Recreation, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife.
Haigh said he wished he had found the sturgeon sooner, or that he was able to do more to help it.
“I tried to drag it out as far into the water as far as I could,” he said.
Marion E. Larson, the spokeswoman for MassWildlife, agreed that the fish appeared to be a sturgeon, but she was not sure if it was an Atlantic or short-nose sturgeon. Both are on the state and federal endangered species list, she said.
Michael O’Neill, the supervisor of the giant ocean tank at the New England Aquarium, believed it was an Atlantic sturgeon based on the photo.
Lynn Lankshear, the sturgeon recovery coordinator for NOAA’s Greater Atlantic Regional Fisheries Office, also said it appeared to be an Atlantic sturgeon.
MassWildlife describes the Atlantic sturgeon as “a very large prehistoric-looking fish” that averages between 6 and 9 feet in length. They can grow up to more than 13 feet in length and weigh as much as 800 pounds, according to a fact sheet on the state’s website.
Unfortunately, the sturgeon that washed up on Revere Beach did not survive. Its body was collected so it could be studied further, according to Lankshear.
Lankshear said it is “fairly rare” for a sturgeon to show up in that area at this time of year.
By examining the sturgeon’s body, researchers can determine its sex, age, and whether it was ever tagged by scientists in the past. They also hope to learn more about the rope on its tailfin, she said.
It’s illegal to fish for or catch sturgeon, so “if the rope was intentionally tied, that is a concern,” she said.
Anyone who sees a stranded, injured, or dead sturgeon should contact NOAA Fisheries, she said.
“It is really important to us to have these sightings reported,” Lankshear said.
To report a sturgeon sighting, call NOAA at 978-281-9328 or 844-STURG911 (844-788-7491) or send an e-mail to NOAA.Sturg911@noaa.gov and report where you saw the fish, how big it was, and what condition it was in. Photos are also helpful.