The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and New York Sea Grant (NYSG) have announced a series of fall events celebrating the continuing recovery of the state’s three sturgeon species.
Sturgeon populations are rebounding in New York after decades of being on the threatened or endangered species lists as DEC continues to work to bring the primitive and distinctive fish back to the freshwaters of the state through strategic fish management and water quality improvements.
To celebrate the recovery of lake sturgeon, currently a threatened species in New York and the province of Ontario, DEC and NYSG teamed up to bring the public closer to these fascinating animals at events over the next few weeks. People who attend the events will have an opportunity to see sturgeon up close and learn from educators and scientists from DEC, NYSG, New York Power Authority, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Geological Survey, Aquarium of Niagara, Seneca Park Zoo, and New York Sturgeon for Tomorrow who are eager to share their knowledge about the fish.
The fall sturgeon celebration is a collaborative effort between DEC and NYSG to raise awareness about the fish making a resurgence in New York in recent years. Additional participating organizations include The Aquarium of Niagara, Seneca Park Zoo, New York Sturgeon of Tomorrow, New York Power Authority, New York State Parks, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and U.S. Geological Survey.
Early October is when lake sturgeon raised at DEC’s Oneida Fish Hatchery and Genoa National Fish Hatchery in Wisconsin are stocked into the tributaries of Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River. Sturgeon displayed at these events are raised at DEC’s Oneida Fish Hatchery, but the Genoa National Fish Hatchery also raises thousands of lake sturgeon each year.
Eggs are taken from fish at Massena, NY, and raised at both hatcheries each year to enhance the recovery program. To date, the recovery program stocked more than 275,000 lake sturgeon into the Great Lakes Basin. Stocking will take place at several locations in late September and early October.
All species of sturgeon are ancient, often referred to as living fossils. Statewide, New York is home to three species of sturgeon: lake sturgeon, which are threatened in New York, and the federally endangered Atlantic and shortnose sturgeons. All are protected in New York State and have important ecological, cultural, and historical significance. Populations of the three species suffered near-extirpation in the late 1800s due to overfishing, water pollution, and dam construction. With the sustained efforts of DEC and partners, all three species of sturgeon are rebounding.
A short video about raising sturgeon at a DEC fish hatchery can be found on DEC’s YouTube channel.
An article about the recovery of all three of New York’s sturgeon species was recently published in the Conservationist magazine.
Photo of 6 foot Lake Sturgeon from Oneida Lake provided by DEC; and illustration showing sturgeon viewing events, including dates, locations, and times.