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Tagged sturgeon may provide key population info
Saturday, September 29, 2001

Tagged sturgeon may provide key population information

By Associated Press

September 29, 2001

CHEBOYGAN, MICHIGAN USA -- More than 900 young sturgeon have been returned to the waters from which they hatched as part of a program geared toward studying the threatened species.

Members of Sturgeon For Tomorrow, a group that has spearheaded efforts to rehabilitate the turgeon population, released 913 fish on Thursday.

"Very few people will ever have an opportunity to see them this size," said Brenda Archambo, president of the group.

Ed Baker of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources said that shortly after they were spawned in May in the Upper Black River, 2,834 sturgeon larvae were removed and taken to Wolf Lake Fish Hatchery near Kalamazoo.

"We're not doing this to try to build the population, we're doing this to try to learn more about the population," Baker said.

Once so plentiful sturgeons blackened large areas of the Great Lakes, their numbers have dropped dramatically of late. Indiscriminate killing and overfishing are the main reasons the great schools that existed centuries ago have dwindled.

Rather than taking eggs and sperm from adult fish in hopes of enhancing a population or establishing a population where one does not exist, this release is the result of research efforts, Baker said.

"We allowed the adults from Black Lake to essentially reproduce naturally and we took the offspring to the hatchery," he said.

All the young fish and adult fish involved were tagged, and small tissue samples were taken from each fish. That way researchers can compare the offspring to the adults to determine which fish are contributing to reproduction, Baker said.

"One of the things that we don't know about the Black Lake population is whether they're reproducing successfully to any extent, and also where the offspring are going, in the lake and the river," he told the Cheboygan Daily Tribune for a Friday story.

Archambo said 25 of the offspring captured in the spring still reside at the hatchery.

They will stay the winter, and then will be released in the spring for additional research. All the other surviving sturgeon were released Thursday, she said.

On the Net: DNR, http://www.dnr.state.mi.us/


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