The End of the Fall Spawning Run

The end of the fall spawning run is here. The sturgeons are all swimming back down the rivers and out into the Atlantic Ocean. Many of our tagged fish have left the Pamunkey River and some have already swam past VIMS. We had a good season, tagged 9 fish in 9 days of gillnetting. We ended our tagging season a little early, but it allowed us more time to actively track the tagged sturgeon. During the peak of the spawning season, tagged fish were spread out from Williams Landing to several miles above the 360 bridge. It appears there may be several locations in that stretch of the river where females release their eggs.

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Dr. Eric Hilton releasing a tagged sturgeon

Unfortunately, I cannot give any details on the sturgeon of the Mattaponi River because another year has passed where we did not tag a single Mattaponi sturgeon. This will be remedied next year with an increase in effort and the expanding knowledge I receive from everyone’s breach reports. Speaking of breach reports, a gigantic THANK YOU goes out to everyone that participated. In one year, we received over 40 reports of sturgeons breaching (see the map at the bottom of this webpage: http://www.vims.edu/research/topics/sturgeon/index.php). Most of them came from the Mattaponi and Pamunkey Rivers, but we also received reports from the York, James, and Chickahominy Rivers. It makes me very happy to know that we have a community of river dwellers willing to join in the hunt for this endangered species. There are still some adults within the river systems, so keep an eye out and keep reporting those breaches.

So what’s next for me? I will continue to monitor our acoustic receiver array, begin to analyze the 10,000+ lines of data acquired from our tagged fish, and prep for the winter/spring season of sub-adult sturgeon tagging. Please stay tuned to the blog, I promise now that things have quieted down, to write more often.

Keep your eyes on the water,

Pat