Atlantic Sturgeon in the Gulf of Maine: From the Bay of Fundy to Hudson River, NY

Wednesday, August 20, 2014: 10:50 AM
204A (Centre des congrès de Québec // Québec City Convention Centre)
Gail Wippelhauser , Maine Department of Marine Resources, Augusta, ME
Atlantic sturgeon (Acipenser oxyrinchus oxyrinchus) is a long-lived, estuarine-dependent, anadromous species that once supported a large commercial fishery in the United States.  In 2012, the Gulf of Maine (GoM) Distinct Population Segment of Atlantic sturgeon was listed as threatened under the federal Endangered Species Act.  However, little was known about Atlantic sturgeon in the US portion of the GoM DPS.  We tagged fish from four river systems (Kennebec System, Penobscot, Saco, and Merrimack) and used acoustic arrays to track their movements within and among those river systems.  Between 2009 and 2013, we confirmed successful Atlantic sturgeon spawning at a previously identified spawning area in the Upper Kennebec Estuary, and documented the presence of adults during the spawning season at putative spawning habitat in the Androscoggin Estuary and Kennebec River.  Non-spawning Atlantic sturgeon moved among the four river systems from approximately mid-March to the end of November. Collaborators that maintain receivers on NERACOOS buoys along the GoM coast as well as arrays to the north (Bay of Fundy) and the south (Connecticut and Hudson rivers and Long Island Sound) of the GoM are allowing us to study long distance movements and increase our understanding of the ecology of the species.