Little information exists on temporal and spatial distributions of wild and hatchery-reared Atlantic sturgeon Acipenser oxyrinchus oxyrinchus in the Chesapeake Bay. Approximately 3,300 hatchery-reared Atlantic sturgeon comprised of two size groups were released into the Nanticoke River, a tributary of the Chesapeake Bay, on 8 July 1996. During January 1996-May 2000, 1099 Atlantic sturgeon were captured incidentally (i.e., bycatch) by commercial watermen in the Chesapeake Bay, including 420 hatchery-reared individuals. Wild and hatchery-reared Atlantic sturgeon were captured primarily in pound nets and gill nets. Biologists tagged each fish and recorded weight, length, and location of capture. Although two adults greater than 2000 mm fork length (FL) were captured in Maryland waters, wild sturgeon were primarily juveniles from Maryland and Virginia waters (415 and 259 individuals below 1000 mm FL, respectively). A growth rate of 0.565 mm/d (N = 15, SE = 0.081) was estimated for wild individuals (487-944 mm TL at release) at liberty from 30 to 622 d. The average growth of the group of hatchery-reared Atlantic sturgeon raised at 10??C exceeded that of the group raised at 17??C. Our distributional data based on capture locations are biased by fishery dependence and gear selectivity. These data are informative to managers, however, because commercial effort is widely distributed in the Chesapeake Bay, and little distributional data were available before this study.
Additional Publication Details
Capture locations and growth rates of Atlantic sturgeon in the Chesapeake Bay