Re: NANFA-- Sturgeon Story

Charles Nunziata (epiplaty_at_tampabay.rr.com)
Thu, 21 Mar 2002 20:25:58 -0500

Sorry- This was supposed to be a non-list message.

Charelie

----- Original Message -----
From: "Charles Nunziata" <epiplaty_at_tampabay.rr.com>
To: <nanfa_at_aquaria.net>
Sent: Thursday, March 21, 2002 7:17 PM
Subject: Re: NANFA-- Sturgeon Story

Hi Moon:

The files are attached in both MD Word and hrm formats.

Regards,

Charlie
----- Original Message -----
From: <Moontanman_at_aol.com>
To: <nanfa_at_aquaria.net>
Sent: Thursday, March 21, 2002 12:26 PM
Subject: Re: NANFA-- Sturgeon Story

> Since I am a sturgeon freak (I watch out I resemble those remarks!) I'd
like
> to see that sturgeon.
>
> Moon
>
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http://www.nanfa.org
Scientists eager to learn about big fish
----------------------------------------

They hope to track the path of the 40-year-old: a rare sturgeon found washed up Friday.

[TABLE NOT SHOWN]

By LEANORA MINAI, Times Staff Writer St. Petersburg Times published March 19, 2002

------------------------------------------------------------------------

ST. PETERSBURG -- To the untrained eye, it is a large and strange-looking fish.

To scientists, it is a gem.

Marine biologists and others are dazzled over the discovery of the largest sturgeon found in the Tampa Bay area since 1897, and one of only a handful found here in the last century.

"It's truly a living relic," said Daniel Roberts, a research scientist at the Florida Marine Research Institute in St. Petersburg, where a necropsy was performed Monday on the sturgeon. "Most people have never seen any of these fish. They're very rare."

Now researchers are trying to learn how the fish got here. Did it take an incredibly bad turn, or are the prehistoric-looking creatures making a comeback in this region?

Biologists do not know what killed the sturgeon, which washed up Friday in a Shore Acres neighborhood.

The fish, a 40-year-old female, was plump with 10 pounds of ripe, black eggs -- high-quality caviar, which would have brought an estimated $6,500.

Marine biologists are curious about the origin of this particular fish. They have long believed the sturgeon, plentiful in the Gulf of Mexico before 1900, disappeared from the Tampa Bay area.

"We have been assuming that the Tampa Bay stocks are gone," said Roberts, 52, also director of a sturgeon habitat study by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. "We just thought there weren't any more, that they couldn't live here anymore, and to find one, especially a big ripe female, is exciting."

In the late 1800s, more flesh and caviar from sturgeon was harvested in Tampa Bay than any other fishery port in the Gulf of Mexico, including New Orleans. Since then, the sturgeon has been threatened with extinction, killed off by overfishing, dams and pollution.

Sturgeon are known to migrate from January to April and spawn in freshwater -- the Mississippi, Pearl, Escambia, Yellow, Choctawhatchee, Apalachicola and Suwannee rivers.

Biologists have tagged and monitored sturgeon to determine where the fish go when they leave freshwater spawning grounds.

"We've never found a spawner in a river that flows into Tampa Bay," Roberts said.

That makes Roberts wonder whether this fish was headed to reproduce at a river that feeds Tampa Bay -- the Alafia or Hillsborough. That would be a first.

"I think it would add a renewed significance and be a measure of sorts of environmental protection," Roberts said. "It would give us some hope that the things we're doing to protect our environment may actually be working to some small degree."

Roberts also said this particular fish might have strayed, taken a wrong turn and gotten lost on her way to spawn in the Suwannee River, where a healthy population of sturgeon exists. Sturgeon are docile and swim and feed on the bottom in water 3-feet to hundreds of feet deep.

After Monday's necropsy, Roberts still does not know why the fish died but hopes that after studying tissue samples, he will be able to determine whether it is from the Suwannee River species.

"We would like to know the history of this fish," Roberts said. "Where did it come from? And why is it in Tampa Bay during the spawning season?"

Part of an old monitoring tag was found on the 40-year-old fish, suggesting it was being tracked by scientists at one time. The fish also had a small hole under its belly. "It could have been a spear," Roberts said.

Still, Roberts does not believe a fisherman tried to kill the sturgeon for its flesh and caviar.

"Maybe it got hooked up or tied up in a fish net," Roberts said. "It didn't look like it had been hit by a boat. It didn't have any shark bites on it. . . . It's a fish tale."

Sturgeon are the oldest living species of fish, dating back more than 250-million years. They existed at the same time as the dinosaurs and have been described as "living fossils."

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--
/"Unless stated otherwise, comments made on this list do not necessarily
/ reflect the beliefs or goals of the North American Native Fishes
/ Association"
/ This is the discussion list of the North American Native Fishes
Association
/ nanfa_at_aquaria.net. To subscribe, unsubscribe, or get help, send the word
/ subscribe, unsubscribe, or help in the body (not subject) of an email to
/ nanfa-request_at_aquaria.net. For a digest version, send the command to
/ nanfa-digest-request_at_aquaria.net instead.
/ For more information about NANFA, visit our web page, http://www.nanfa.org
/-----------------------------------------------------------------------------
/"Unless stated otherwise, comments made on this list do not necessarily
/ reflect the beliefs or goals of the North American Native Fishes
/ Association"
/ This is the discussion list of the North American Native Fishes Association
/ nanfa_at_aquaria.net. To subscribe, unsubscribe, or get help, send the word
/ subscribe, unsubscribe, or help in the body (not subject) of an email to
/ nanfa-request_at_aquaria.net. For a digest version, send the command to
/ nanfa-digest-request_at_aquaria.net instead.
/ For more information about NANFA, visit our web page, http://www.nanfa.org