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GLIN==> Shovelnose sturgeon return to Ohio waters

Submitted by Craig Springer <Craig_Springer@fws.gov>

> Shovelnose sturgeon return to Ohio waters
> Private-public partnership brings native fish back after 50-year hiatus
> Craig Springer, USFWS
>        The month of May is a pivotal season in Ohio, the fulcrum from the
> cold and wet spring, to the sweltering summer sure to follow.  Dogwoods
> spatter their white blossoms across the hillsides, and the edges of upland
> streams are dotted with gravelly smallmouth bass nests.  Turkey hunters
> take to the woods.  It all happens about the same time every year, like
> nature's clockwork.  But this May, beneath surface of the Scioto River,
> something new may be going on for the first time in half a century:
> sturgeon spawning.
>        Thanks to a private-public partnership, shovelnose sturgeon have
> back to the Buckeye state after nearly a 50-year hiatus.  It's considered
> an endangered species by the state of Ohio.
>        Water pollution and locks and dams eliminated the fish from the
> state.  Not only did dams in the Ohio River prevent these highly mobile
> sturgeon from getting to upstream spawning habitats, the flat water
> impoundments behind them offer no habitat.  If form follows function, then
> the shovelnose sturgeon is the prototype for a body form shaped for fast
> water.  The spindly body and flat wedge-shaped snout allow the fish to
> up station in fast-flowing chutes as it peruses the bottom for insects,
> snails, mussels and crayfish - prey quite vulnerable to water pollution.
>        But opportunity knocks.
>        According to ODOW biologist, Scott Schell, who leads the effort to
> restore this native fish, the Scioto River is cleaner now than it has been
> in decades.  Moreover, the section of the Scioto where the shovelnose
> sturgeon were stocked has the largest number of fish and macroinvertebrate
> species than any other Ohio stream - and that speaks to high-quality
> habitat.  The first dam on the Scioto that can block fish movement is 153
> miles above its mouth on the Ohio River in the city of Columbus, and that
> means the shovelnose sturgeon will have room to roam.
>        The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service's Carterville Fishery Resources
> Office, located in Marion, Illinois, routinely monitors shovelnose
> populations in the lower Ohio and Mississippi rivers, where the species is
> much more abundant, and even affords commercial and recreational
> It's these surveys that provide a source of sturgeon for the ODOW.
>        The five-year reintroduction effort is in its third year. Only 35
> shovelnose sturgeon made it to the Scioto River in 2002; this spring 153
> fish made the trip from near Paducah, Kentucky, to Circleville, Ohio.
> year the USFWS shipped sac-fry to ODOW's Kincaid State Fish Hatchery where
> the sturgeon were grown out and stocked into the Scioto.
>        Those young fish were the product of an unusual partnership
> state and federal governments, private enterprise and academia.
>        "The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has been the ligament - the
> connective tissue that pulled this partnership together," said Greg
> Conover, the USFWS fishery biologist who leads sturgeon surveys on the
> and Mississippi rivers.
>        Conover provided adult fish to Logan Hollow Fish Farm in
> Illinois, a private commercial hatchery working with Southern Illinois
> University on early life history studies of shovelnose sturgeon.  Some of
> the offspring went to university researchers, the others went to the ODOW.
> The partnership will provide more young fish over the next two years.
>        All of the young fish put in the Scioto River will be marked with
> injected liquid-plastic tag visible just under the skin on the snout.
> Three years from now when biologists seek to measure success, they'll look
> for young shovelnose sturgeon without marks - fish spawned in the wild.
>        "Biologists almost always want to get returns on tagged fish," said

> Conover.  "But in this case, when shovelnose sturgeon show up without
> little flourescent tags on their snouts, we'll know our partnership has
> paid dividends - wild sturgeon."
>        While it may be a number of years before Ohio anglers can set a
> line or deadline fish for shovelnose sturgeon, this private-public
> partnership is large step forward.
>        But first things first says Schell: "After five years of
> and stocking, I hope a few adult fish find each other on a riffle and
> spawn. That's when we'll know things are working and we're on track."
>        And that could be the fulcrum in returning this native fish to
> waters, and an opportunity for Buckeye anglers to catch a swimming
> dinosaur.
> (See attached file: Don Swatzel - River Backgroud.JPG)
> Ohio Division of Wildlife fish biologist, Don Swatzel, shows off an adult
> shovelnose sturgeon.  ODOW Photo.
> (See attached file: Shovelnose Sturgeon Poster.ppt)
> Ohio Division of Wildlife poster warns anglers about the presence of the
> shovelnose sturgeon.
> -- 
> Christine Manninen
> GLIN Webmaster: www.great-lakes.net
> --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- ---
> Program Manager, Communications & Internet Technology
> Great Lakes Commission
> 2805 South Industrial Hwy., Suite #100
> Ann Arbor, MI 48104
> Phone 734.971.9135 ext 112


Don Swatzel - River Backgroud.JPG

Shovelnose Sturgeon Poster.ppt