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Virginia Institute of Marine Science

Atlantic Sturgeon Tagging

  • stugeon_on_dock.jpg
    Atlantic sturgeon
  • Atlantic sturgeon
    Atlantic sturgeon
    Carefully making an incision to implant an acoustic tag
  • Atlantic sturgeon
    Atlantic sturgeon
    sutures in the abdomen after having an acoustic tag implanted.
  • Atlantic Sturgeon
    Atlantic Sturgeon
    with dorsal dart tag
  • Atlantic sturgeon
    Atlantic sturgeon
    mouth
  • juvenile_sturgeon.jpg
    Juvenile Atlantic sturgeon
The Atlantic sturgeon <em>Acipenser oxyrinchus</em>.

Although Atlantic sturgeon hav been documented in the  James and York rivers since colonization of the Jamestown Settlement in 1607, not much is known about their movements in these Chesapeake Bay tributaries. Researchers at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science use tagging studies to identify important habitats for these ancient fish. VIMS scientists track sturgeon using dart, PIT (passive integrated transponder), radio, and acoustic tags.

Dart or PIT Tags

All sturgeon handled by researchers are tagged with dart and PIT tags. Fish are scanned to determine if the animal was previously tagged with a PIT tag.

Acoustic Tags
  • Mature sturgeon are surgically implanted with acoustic transmitters. These animals are tracked by an array of recievers in the James River between Jamestown and Richmond.
  • The goal of this work is to identify spawning reaches and essential habitat
Radio Tags

Some juvenile sturgeon receive surgically implanted radio tags. Radio tracking enables scientists to monitor daily movement patterns. The US Army Corps of Engineers will use this information to avoid dredging when and where sturgeon are most active.