Maryland will be able to continue tracking the endangered Atlantic sturgeon for the next three years, thanks to $700,000 in federal funding.
The prehistoric fish, which can live for 60 years and grow to be 14 feet long, is protected under the federal Endangered Species Act. The species was believed to be wiped out on the Chesapeake until 2014, when biologists discovered a fall spawning population in the Nanticoke River for the first time in 40 years.
Since then, the state’s Department of Natural Resources has been tagging and tracking fall spawning sturgeon in the Nanticoke and Marshyhope Creek. The funds, just awarded come from a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) grant, will allow scientists in Maryland and Delaware to catch sturgeon, collect DNA samples, and implant acoustic transmitters before releasing them again. Later this year, Maryland and Delaware will do a trawl survey for juveniles to confirm successful reproduction.
“Our continued work is essential to understand and support the continued restoration of this species in Maryland’s waters,” Anadromous Restoration Project Leader Charles “Chuck” Stence said.