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Movements of Atlantic Sturgeon of the Gulf of Maine inside and outside the geographically defined Distinct Population Segment

October 24, 2017

Identification of potential critical habitat, seasonal distributions, and movements within and between river systems is important for protecting the Gulf of Maine (GOM) Distinct Population Segment of Atlantic Sturgeon. To accomplish these objectives, we captured Atlantic Sturgeon in four GOM rivers (Penobscot, Kennebec system, Saco, and Merrimack), and tagged 144 (83.3–217.4 cm TL) internally with uniquely coded acoustic transmitters. Tagged fish were detected between 2006 to 2014 by primary receiver arrays deployed in the four GOM rivers or opportunistically on a secondary group of receivers deployed within the GOM and along the continental shelf. Atlantic Sturgeon tagged in the four rivers were documented at three spawning areas in the Kennebec system in June and July, including one that became accessible in 1999 when the Edwards Dam was removed. After being tagged, the majority (74%) of Atlantic sturgeon were detected in the estuaries of the four GOM rivers, primarily from May through October. Tagged fish spent most of their time in saline water in the Saco River and Merrimack River, moved into brackish water in the Penobscot River, and were found in saline, brackish, and fresh water in the Kennebec system. Approximately 70% of the tagged fish were detected in GOM coastal waters, and aggregated in the Bay of Fundy (May–January), offshore of the Penobscot River (September-February and May), offshore of the Kennebec River (September–February), in Saco Bay and the Scarborough River (July–November), and along the eastern Massachusetts coast between Cape Ann and Cape Cod (April–February). Nine tagged Atlantic sturgeon (7%) left the GOM, three of which moved as far north as Halifax in Canada and six moved as far south as the James River in Virginia. Information from this study will be used to make recommendations to avoid, reduce or mitigate the impacts of in-water projects and on Atlantic sturgeon.

Publication Year 2017
Title Movements of Atlantic Sturgeon of the Gulf of Maine inside and outside the geographically defined Distinct Population Segment
DOI 10.1080/19425120.2016.1271845
Authors Gail S. Wippelhauser, James Sulikowski, Gayle B. Zydlewski, Megan Altenritter, Micah Kieffer, Michael T. Kinnison
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Marine and Coastal Fisheries: Dynamics, Management, and Ecosystem Science
Index ID 70192267
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Leetown Science Center