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Atlantic Sturgeon in the Hudson River Region

Long-Term Monitoring Programs

Juvenile Atlantic Sturgeon Monitoring

Watch a short video about Atlantic Sturgeon Monitoring and check out other clips on DEC's YouTube Channel.
Hudson River Fisheries Unit measuring a juvenile Atlantic sturgeon

The life history of Atlantic sturgeon makes monitoring of population trends through time difficult. In 2003-2005, the NYSDEC and USFWS collaborated to develop a method to track changes in abundance of juvenile Atlantic sturgeon over time. In 2006, the DEC and Hudson River Estuary Program began using the developed sampling program. Anchored gill nets (stretch mesh sizes of 3", 4", 5") are set at predetermined sites. Captured Atlantic sturgeon are weighed (nearest gram), measured (nearest mm, TL and FL) and double tagged. If a passive integrated transponder (PIT) tag is not present, one is implanted.

In initial attempts to calculate the annual gill net survey index, survey catches seem to be affected by varying environmental conditions, including water temperature, salinity and distance to salt front. Future models to calculate relative abundance will incorporate this environmental conditions.

The graph on the right represents the NYSDEC abundance index for juvenile Atlantic sturgeon (estimated age 2-3 years old); collected in the Hudson River estuary. The standardized index is run through a model that incorporates environmental conditions into the calculations. This graph was produced for NYSDEC by Mark DuFour (methods and data unpublished, in press).

Adult Atlantic Sturgeon Monitoring

Hudson River Fisheries Unit staff lifting an Atlantic sturgeon into the boat

To learn more about what returns to the river every year to spawn, NYSDEC samples the spawning area near Hyde Park in June (2006-present) to sample the adult fish that have returned to the river to spawn. Data are collected on length, weight and sex. A PIT tag is implanted if the fish doesn't have one.

Additional Research

Receiver Array Maintenance

In cooperation with other researchers along the coast, NYSDEC maintains a network of receivers throughout the Hudson River. The receivers detect sonic tagged fish tagged along the coast as well as within the Hudson River. The Atlantic Coast Cooperative Network (leaves DEC's website) allows for data sharing along the coast on all species of tagged fishes. Data from other researchers' fish are sent to the Atlantic Coast Cooperative Network providing data free of charge and the same is done for NYSDEC tagged fish.

Sonic and satellite tagging

An Atlantic sturgeon equipped with a sonic tag and USFWS dart tag

Spawning locations of Atlantic sturgeon within the Hudson River Estuary remain poorly delineated. Several authors have investigated spawning activity of Atlantic sturgeon within the estuary, but have drawn differing conclusions about spawning locations. Thirty fish were tagged with sonic tags to learn more about spawning locations and movement while in the river.

To learn more about migration in the ocean and congregation areas along the coast, fish were tagged with pop-off satellite tags. Data were stored and at the programmed date, the tag came to the surface and transmitted the data to NYSDEC. Learn more about satellite tagging. (leaves DEC's website).


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