Assessment of lake sturgeon spawning stocks using fixed-location, split-beam sonar technology

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Fixed-location, split-beam sonar technology was used successfully to identify adult lake sturgeon Acipenser fulvescens as they moved upstream and downstream for spawning in the Sturgeon River, Michigan, May-June 2004. A Hydroacoustic Technology Inc. Model 241 Split-Beam Echo Sounder operating at 200 kHz and a single 4 × 10° elliptical-beam transducer with a near field range of 1.7 m set perpendicular to the river flow was used. Data collected from migrating lake sturgeon included direction of movement, swimming speed, range from transducer, time and date of passage, and target strength. The spawning population of lake sturgeon was estimated to be at 350-400 fish, with almost equal numbers of fish seen moving upstream as downstream. Most fish were recorded moving within the mid-section of the river, 1.5-1.65 m deep, and swimming speeds upstream were slower than those for downstream moving fish. These results show that spilt-beam sonar can be applied to lake sturgeon assessments, without the stress of actually handling these large, pre-spawning fish. © 2007 The Authors.

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Journal of Applied Ichthyology