Acoustic receivers in Saginaw Bay watershed will help track endangered sturgeon

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(source: Saginaw Bay WIN)

Bay City, MI – A new project using a sophisticated receiver system in Saginaw Bay and Lake Huron will help guide researchers in their efforts to bring the state-threatened lake sturgeon back to the Saginaw Bay system.

(source: Saginaw Bay WIN)

The sturgeons will be implanted with transmitters before being released into four rivers – Cass, Flint, Shiawassee, and Tittabawassee – so researchers can track them as they pass receivers in river systems and Saginaw Bay. Little is currently known about where stocked sturgeon spend their time, and this new information will help guide the future of the multi-year restoration program. The partners of the effort recently announced that 4,000 sturgeons have been released into the system since 2017. Starting in 2022, 160 sturgeons will be implanted with transmitters and they will be monitored with a new network of 45 receivers in the bay and the river system.

“We are thrilled to be a part of the project,” said Michael Kelly of the Conservation Fund and the Saginaw Bay Watershed Initiative Network (WIN). “We have worked closely with partners to facilitate the stocking of these fish, and we are now eager to learn more about their movement through the system. Sturgeons generally don’t return to rivers to spawn until they are at least 15 years old, so this will give us a first glimpse of their movement, ”Kelly continued.

(source: Saginaw Bay WIN)

The Saginaw Bay project is part of a larger effort across the Great Lakes facilitated by the Great Lakes Acoustic Ranging Observing System (GLATOS). “GLATOS aims to provide fisheries managers with information related to the behavior and movement of fish in the Great Lakes that helps support efforts to maintain native stocks and control invasive species,” said Chris Vandergoot, Associate Professor at Michigan State University and director of GLATOS.

(source: Saginaw Bay WIN)

The project is largely funded by the Great Lakes Fisheries Trust, GLATOS, and the Saginaw Bay WIN program, with additional partners including the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, the US Fish and Wildlife Service, and the US Geological Survey.

While the acoustic receivers in Saginaw Bay are primarily in place for sturgeon monitoring, the acoustic network across the bay will also be used to track the movement of walleye from 2022. Researchers will work with chartered fishing captains. and recreational fishermen to tag and release 300 walleye. in the open waters of Saginaw Bay next spring, with acoustic monitors placed at the inlets of several large spawning rivers. “The implications are obvious. The relative use of the river will tell us which places are used the most and it can help us prioritize habitat improvement like building reefs and passing fish to dams. The origin of all this natural reproduction remains one of the last great mysteries surrounding the walleye of Saginaw Bay, ”said David Fielder, Ph.D. Fisheries research biologist at the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.



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