CAROLINA BEACH, N.C. — A strange looking fish washed ashore on Carolina Beach Monday.
The strange fish appears to be an Atlantic sturgeon, which is a primitive fish that’s been in existence for more than 120 million years, according to the Chesapeake Bay Program.
WECT reported that the fish can weigh up to 500 pounds.
Atlantic sturgeons spend the majority of their lives in saltwater but hatch and lay eggs in freshwater, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
NOAA officially declared the Atlantic sturgeon an endangered species in 2012, so it is now illegal to fish, catch or harvest the fish or their eggs.
Wildlife officials say anyone who accidentally catches a sturgeon should:
- Contact the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission’s Division of Inland Fisheries
- Tell them the time, date and place where the fish was caught
- Inform the commission of the length of the fish and a send a photo
- Return the fish to the water