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Man Spots Rare Atlantic Sturgeon Fish In Charles River

BOSTON (CBS) - Rick Bellitti was taking a lunch break walking along the Charles River recently when something caught his eye.

"It was enough to make me stop and take a closer look," said Bellitti.

The tax accountant quickly grabbed his phone to snap photos of what he was seeing: the Atlantic sturgeon, one of the most ancient surviving fish species.

"Sturgeon haven't been seen in Boston in decades, maybe a century," said Tony Lacasse of the New England Aquarium.

WBZ-TV's Kate Merrill reports.

The fish, known to grow up to 10-12 feet and 1,000 pounds, used to inhabit New England, but they are now on the endangered species list. Overfishing, dams and pollution are to blame for the sturgeon's shrinking population.

"I've never seen anything like it, and to find out that it's endangered and I happened to be walking by and catch a glimpse of it. I thought it was kind of interesting," said Bellitti.

Lacasse said the discovery means our water is getting cleaner.

"In this case, we've got a highly sensitive species that hasn't been seen here in decades, if not a century, it's good news," said Tony Lacasse, New England Aquarium.

The Boston Inner Harbor has seen porpoises, seals and even young humpback whales, but no one had ever heard of a sturgeon there until now.

Experts believe there is a small sturgeon population in the Merrimack River.

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