DNR: Eight Atlantic Sturgeon Tagged, Released in Eastern Shore W - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

DNR: Eight Atlantic Sturgeon Tagged, Released in Eastern Shore Waters

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EASTERN SHORE, Md. – Eight adult Atlantic sturgeon, an endangered species, have been found, tagged and released in an Eastern Shore tributary of the Chesapeake, according to the Maryland Department of Natural Resources.

The DNR says this is the first time in more than 40 years that mature female sturgeon have been documented in Maryland upstream habitats.

“While this is not clear evidence this species is successfully spawning in Maryland, it does indicate that more research in this tributary is warranted,” Chuck Stence, DNR Anadromous Restoration project leader, said.

According to the DNR, since 2012, fishermen have reported sturgeon jumping in Marshyhope Creek, a tributary to the Nanticoke River.

“Now that sturgeon have been tagged in Marshyhope Creek, we can document information about their movements within this system and the Bay for years to come,” Stence said. “This will give us a better understanding of the Atlantic sturgeon's status in Maryland.”

The National Marine Fisheries Service labeled the Atlantic sturgeon as federally endangered in April 2012, according to DNR officials.

DNR biologists say this is the first time they have been able to catch the elusive fish in more than three years.

The first catches, made on August 27, were a 7-foot, 3-inch, 154-pound mature female and a 5-foot, 2-inch, 70-pound mature male, according to the DNR. Both were caught in the same net and placed under anesthesia in an oxygenated tank to collect data and tissue samples for DNA analysis.

DNR biologists say they implanted acoustic transmitters, external tags and passive integrated transponder tags into the fish and then revived and released them back into the river. The entire process took 10 minutes.

Since the initial first two sturgeon have been caught, six more have been found, tagged and released, according to the DNR.

As part of the ongoing efforts to identify suitable habitat for sturgeon, DNR in cooperation with University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science, Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, Virginia Commonwealth University, the Virginia Institute of Marine Science, and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Maryland Fishery Resource Office have deployed acoustic receivers strategically throughout the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries.

These receivers detect individual transmitters that researchers have implanted into Atlantic sturgeon along the Atlantic coast from Canada to Florida, according to DNR officials. Several tagged Atlantic sturgeon have been recorded in the upper Chesapeake Bay and Pocomoke River over the past year.

DNR said this project is funded through the National Marine Fisheries Service Species Recovery Grants to States program.

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