Stewards of the Sea: The U.S. Navy's Efforts to Track Atlantic Sturgeon Movements in the Chesapeake Bay

Wednesday, August 20, 2014: 11:30 AM
204A (Centre des congrès de Québec // Québec City Convention Centre)
Carter Watterson , Naval Facilities Engineering Command Atlantic, U.S. Department of the Navy, Norfolk, VA
Christian Hager , Chesapeake Scientific, LLC., Williamsburg, VA
Keith Dunton , School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences, Stony Brook University, Stony Brook, NY
Dewayne Fox , Delaware State University, Dover, DE
Matthew Breece , Delaware State University, Dover, DE
Matthew Balazik , Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, VA
David MacDuffee , U.S. Fleet Forces Command, U.S. Department of the Navy, Norfolk
In December 2012, the U.S. Department of the Navy (Navy) initiated a multi-year telemetry-based study to examine occupancy patterns of protected species within the lower Chesapeake Bay with an emphasis on areas where naval operations occur.  Of particular interest is Atlantic sturgeon (Acipenser oxyrinchus oxyrinchus), which was recently protected under the Endangered Species Act throughout its range.  The objectives of the study are to determine migratory pathways, behavior, and periods of residency to allow the Navy to conduct a more informed assessment of potential impacts to the species that may result from conducting training operations within the Chesapeake Bay.  As part of this effort, over 75 Vemco Ltd. VR2W receivers were deployed strategically in arrays to cover areas of military activity and regions of biological significance. Areas of deployment include the York River watershed, Hampton Roads and the Elizabeth River, the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay, and in near-shore coastal waters.  During the first year of its deployment, the array had 156,545 detections of 12 different species and 679 individual fish tagged from as far north as Maine and as far south as Florida. Of the total number of fish detected, 359 were Atlantic sturgeon.