Altamaha River Georgia
Altamaha Riverkeeper
P.O. Box 2642 | Darien, GA 31305 | Tel 912-437-8164 | FAX 912-437-8765
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The King of Fishes: Sturgeon 1955

by Constance Riggins

Steve Fox and Rob DeVries with Atlantic Sturgeon.
These old photographs were sent to the Altamaha Riverkeeper by Doug Denton from Decatur, Georgia. He wanted to know if sturgeon still existed as large as the ones pictured. The photographs belonged to Denton's neighbor, Walter Morgan. To trace down the background on the photos, I talked with Mr. Morgan who told me his grandfather, Judge V.S. Morgan and a group of other men purchased land in McIntosh County in the 1930's, located 18 miles upriver from Darien, on the Altamaha River. They built a fishing and hunting club and named it Fort Barrington after the nearby historic fort, built by the British in the 1750's.
These photos, taken July of 1955, picture Walter Potts and Nell Phillips with V. S. Morgan Jr. sitting.

Morgan said, the caretaker of the Fort Barrington Club, Charlie O'Quinn, fished for sturgeon every summer. O'Quinn netted the sturgeon, cut them into steaks, barreled them up, and shipped them to New York for 50 cents a pound. That was an exorbitant amount of money during the time of World War II. O'Quinn did not fool with the caviar. The sturgeon steaks were also considered a delicacy. Morgon says " We had many family vacations at the Fort Barrington Club on the river. We were always proud to pose for pictures with the giant fish."

The question from Doug Denton "Do sturgeons this big still exist?" and these photos spurred the following article: The King of Fishes, Sturgeon 2005. At the time, just across the street from ARK's office, University of Georgia students were netting and tagging fish in the Darien River for the largest study in Georgia on the sturgeon population.

The Endangered Species Act was envisioned as a law to protect species believed to be on the brink of extinction. When the law was enacted, there were 109 species listed for protection. Today, there are roughly 1,300 on the list, with 250 species considered as “ Candidates” for listing, and nearly 4,000 species designated as “Species of Concern.”


Rubye Parr Morgan and Herndon Morgan Sr.
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