They’re Back!!!!

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Head of a beluga sturgeon (approximately 2 feet long) and several gulf sturgeons being preserved in a VIMS coffin

The adults have started to return (well actually they have been returning since April), but in the last few weeks I have had several breaching reports. I received a call last week from the Pamunkey River and one earlier this week about a large adult at the mouth of the York River. I am beginning preparations for the fall tagging season; nets are being made, surgical tools and acoustic tags ordered, and I am assembling a small army of volunteers, students, and staff. I just cannot wait until the temperatures begin to drop and it is safe to gillnet for them.

In other sturgeon news, Dr. Eric Hilton went on a trip south to bring back several specimens of Gulf sturgeon (a sub-species of our Atlantic sturgeon) from the USGS lab in Gainsville, Fl and a large head of a beluga sturgeon from Sturgeon Aquafarms in Miami, Fl. All of the specimens will be preserved and placed in the VIMS ichthyology collection. The beluga sturgeon is well known for its caviar and has been commercially over-fished to the point it is now listed as critically endangered. It historically existed in the Caspian, Black, Azov and Adriatic Sea basins, but due to dams and over-fishing has been extirpated from both the Adriatic and Azov Seas. The largest beluga sturgeon recorded was in 1827, weighing 3,400 lbs and was 24 feet long.