Presentation on theme: "Lake Sturgeon (Acipenser fulvescens). What are Lake Sturgeon? Cartilaginous (nearly boneless) fish Row of bony scutes on side and top of body Shark-like."— Presentation transcript:
Lake Sturgeon (Acipenser fulvescens)
What are Lake Sturgeon? Cartilaginous (nearly boneless) fish Row of bony scutes on side and top of body Shark-like tail and sucker-like mouth Unique barbels (whiskers) located in front of the mouth used as sensory organs. Shark-like tail Bony plates Four barbels
Lake Sturgeon Historic Distribution (green) Historic GA Distribution (yellow) Current Distribution (red)
History Ancient species dating to dinosaur era. Before 1860, considered a trash fish. Sturgeon were dried and used as firewood or feed for pigs. After 1860, interest in caviar and smoked filets lead to over harvest. Populations have never recovered. Nationwide - current population is less than 1% of former abundance.
Georgia Lake Sturgeon Entirely freshwater. Historic range limited to Coosa River System. Threatened species Lives years. Typically reaches up to 6-feet in length and 200 pounds.
Food Habits Feeds on the bottom using the four barbels under its snout to taste & feel its food. Opportunistic feeders that prefer soft-bodied organisms (worms, insect larvae, mollusks, etc.).
Spring spawners (53 o -58 o F). Spawn in rocky areas near strong currents. Eggs adhere to rocky substrate. Females first spawn at years of age and spawn once every 4-9 years. Males mature earlier and spawn every 1-2 years Likely to mature faster in Georgia’s climate. Reproduction
Spawning Female Sturgeon
Current Lake Sturgeon Management Goals Re-establish a native species to the Coosa River system. Establish a fishable population Contribute to conservation efforts in North America.
Does the original Coosa River population still exist (loss of genetic integrity)? Will restoration impact other species (particularly endangered species)? Reintroduction Considerations
Do the original fish still exist? Scientific publications Scientific publications list the fish as “extirpated”. Last verified Lake Sturgeon Last verified Lake Sturgeon from the Coosa River system was early 1960’s.
1997 Campaign Poster Used to find anglers who might verify the presence of sturgeon.
Will they impact other species? Co-existed with Coosa River species in the past. Unlikely to target any specific food source given their opportunistic feeding style. Overpopulation potential is extremely low due to infrequent spawning and late maturity.
Reintroduction Plan Stock 4-6 inch fingerlings starting fall Continue stocking for at least 20 years. Mark fish to track individual stockings. Monitor stocking success using a variety of methods including radio telemetry. Protective regulation.
Rearing at WRD Summerville Fish Hatchery Receive eggs from Wisconsin. Grow to 4-6 inches. Cooperative studies with UGA to refine rearing techniques. Sturgeon eggs in hatching jar. 4 to 6 inch sturgeon in hatchery trough.
Sturgeon Release Released August through December. Release sites on the Coosawattee, Etowah, and Oostanaula Rivers. Calhoun and Armuchee Elementary Schools (Rome) involved.
Monitoring the Lake Sturgeon Wire Tagging and Radio Telemetry are methods used to help monitor released Lake Sturgeon
Public Education Efforts Media releases. Signs at public areas. Public meetings. Presentations to interested groups. Educational outreach.
Accidental Catch Sturgeon should be released while still in the water. If hooked deep, cut line close to the hook. If you observe a sturgeon, contact WRD Fisheries Management Section.
The Past Lake Sturgeon caught in Oostanaula River (1959).