A Tag for All Seasons

Hello everyone, as I write this I am aboard the R/V Shearwater (a 18 ft skiff) watching my nets soak on the Mattaponi River. I have had 2 reports of sturgeon breaching near Aylett, VA and 1 on the Pamunkey River near the reservation over the last 2 weeks. This past week we have also tagged 2 subadults on the James and helped our counterpart at VCU, Matt Balazik tag a 5 ft adult.

acoustic tag

One of our ultrasonic acoustic tags

This is my third blog and I have yet to explain these magical tags. The tags are “ultrasonic acoustic tags” and they are called this because they emit an extremely high pitched signal (way above human hearing). This signal is picked up by an array of receivers located in the rivers and Chesapeake Bay. The signal contains several pieces of data:  the fish’s unique number, time, date, and sometimes depth of the fish. These tags will last 10 years or more, allowing us to track each fish for a large portion of their life. When we download the data from the receivers, we can begin to piece together movements and habitat preferences.

Now it’s time for me to get back to fishing. Remember to keep your eyes on the water and report any and all breaches.

-Pat