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Juvenile Atlantic Sturgeon Monitoring

Juvenile Atlantic Sturgeon Monitoring

The life history of Atlantic sturgeon makes monitoring of population trends through time difficult. Monitoring these populations over time, however, is important so we can determine the status of this prehistoric fish and evaluate the impacts of management changes. In 2003-2005, the NYSDEC and USFWS collaborated to develop a method to track changes in abundance of juvenile Atlantic sturgeon over time. Beginning in 2006, the DEC and Hudson River Estuary Program conducted annual sample for Atlantic sturgeon in Haverstraw Bay.

Image of Atlantic sturgeon

Methods:

We use anchored gillnets with stretch mesh sizes of 3 inches, 4 inches, and 5 inches. We set all three meshes at a pre-determined site. Site selection is done by habitat type, and the most appropriate sample habitats were determined during the pilot study. 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, then we implant one. Fish are also tagged with an external USFWS Dart tag. Fish are released at the point of capture. Please report all tagged Atlantic sturgeon to the USFWS.

Biologist holding a sturgeon

In initial attempts to calculate the annual gill net survey index we found that survey catches were affected by varying environmental conditions, including water temperature, salinity and distance to salt front. The model selected will incorporate the mentioned environmental conditions as well as year and rivermile. We are still working through the model, check back in the future for results.

Atlantic sturgeon getting a PIT tag

Hudson River Estuary Program. Click to learn more about how we are protecting this important estuary.


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