STONY BROOK, NY, October 6, 2010 - A first-of-its-kind study that tracked the oceanic migrations of adult Atlantic sturgeon that were caught and tagged in the Hudson River discovered that these fish move vast distances in the Atlantic Ocean, traveling as far south as Georgia and as far north as Nova Scotia, Canada. The findings indicate that recovery of Atlantic sturgeon fisheries will need to address long-range oceanic threats to the species in addition to local measures closer to spawning grounds. These results are particularly timely given the announcement on October 5 by NOAA's Fisheries Service, proposing that five populations of Atlantic sturgeon along the U.S. East Coast, including the population examined in this study, receive protection under the federal Endangered Species Act (http://www.nefsc.noaa.gov/press_release/2010/News/NR1025/index.html).
The researchers used pop-up satellite archival tags (PSAT), which were affixed to sturgeon in their freshwater spawning grounds in the Hudson River. This relatively new technology enabled researchers to track fish movements over a larger area, and without the bias that can occur with other commonly used methods such as fixed acoustic arrays or fishery-dependent observations.
"This study of Atlantic sturgeon provides us with new insight into the very critical oceanic phase of the lives of these fish," said Dr. Ellen Pikitch, Executive Director of the Institute for Ocean Conservation Science at Stony Brook University and co-author of the study. "Effective restoration policies for sturgeon must consider threats to the species throughout their life cycle."
As is the case for most species of sturgeon, Atlantic sturgeon spawn in fresh water but spend the majority of their lives in the sea, A status review conducted in 2007 identified five Distinct Population Segments for Atlantic Sturgeon, which ar
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Stony Brook University