Sturgeon are thriving in the Mighty Genesee!

Photos by Dawn Dittman

Photos by Dawn Dittman

SturgeonJuly’s Genesee River netting survey of 3,000 lake sturgeon (reintroduced as nursery reared, four-inch fry in 2003. 2004 and 2013 by U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Tunison Lab biologist Dr. Dawn Dittman assisted by Zoo staff) continues to tell a tremendous success story!

The sturgeon, a fish with a long history in the Genesee River, all but disappeared due to overfishing, pollution and habitat loss 100 years ago. Seneca Park Zoo 2014 Aab Pre-Vet fellow Ashlee Melhado and a USGS team spent a beautiful day on the Genesee studying the one to eleven year old fish .

After taking measurements (plus photos of course!) and placing a yellow fin tag with a USGS phone number and unique code, the fish were returned back to the Genesee where it flows adjacent to the Zoo. All sturgeon bioindicators show that the Genesee River is a healthy nursery for sturgeon to thrive. As teenagers, these contemporaries of the dinosaurs leave the Genesee for the next 85 to 150 years to live in Lake Ontario, only returning to the lower Genesee to spawn every 3 to 5 years.

Our science programs saving this species will certainly span several careers of budding zoo and aquatic biologists!

– Dr. Jeff Wyatt. Director of Animal Health & Conservation

Published July 2014