Groggy from a dose of anesthesia administered by biologists from the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, the large sturgeon nudged against my kayak on a beautiful late summer morning on Marshyhope Creek. It then swam along the surface, looking very much like the ancient species that it is — or maybe something out of a Jules Verne novel — and finally dove deeper into the creek.
For this Bay Journal photographer, is was a lovely commute by kayak to a very interesting assignment.
The fish was the second of two sturgeon caught in gill nets during a morning session in mid-September by Chuck Stence, head of anadromous fish restoration at DNR and his crew of biologists: Mike Porta, Mark Bowermaster and Matt Baldwin. A third fish was netted in the afternoon. The largest, a female, weighed in at 92 pounds and was 73 inches long. The other two were males, each around 57 inches and 45 pounds.
The fish were caught using large, 10-inch mesh gill nets, then brought on board where they were weighed, measured and a small tissue cut from their tail cartilage for DNA analysis. Several sensors were also implanted: a passive integrated transponder (PIT) tag, an exterior identification tag, and a lipstick-sized acoustic transmitter that would help DNR biologists keep track of the fish's whereabouts. When the incision was made to place the transmitter in the female one could clearly see the black eggs — caviar — in her belly. All of the fish were released successfully back into the river.
For the biologists is was clearly a rewarding day of “fishing” after several years of frustration (link: http://www.bayjournal.com/article/biologists_net_ripe_sturgeon_on_nanticoke_tributary ) They've caught half a dozen adult sturgeon so far this year after catching none the previous two years.