LAKE STURGEON

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					                                                                                                                              Detroit River
                                                                                                                              Sturgeon
                                                                                                                              Spawning Sites



Lake sturgeon                                                                                              www.miseagrant.umich.edu
Acipenser fulvescens
Lake sturgeon were historically abundant in all of the Great Lakes.
They served as an important food source for many Native American
tribes. When European settlers arrived in the region, sturgeon were so
numerous during the spring spawning run that they were reportedly
capable of capsizing fishing boats.

Life History                                         Habitat Restoration
Lake sturgeon are nearshore fish that live at        Today, the State of Michigan prohibits com-
water depths of 15 to 30 feet. They feed along       mercial fishing for lake sturgeon and closely
lake bottoms, eating a variety of small animals      regulates sturgeon sport fishing. A limited
including snails, crustaceans, aquatic insects,      number of sportfishing licenses are issued each
mussels, and small fish. Most lake sturgeon          year. In some areas of the state, volunteers
caught today weigh between 30 and 100                help monitor spring spawning runs to protect
pounds and grow three to six feet in length.         sturgeon from being taken illegally.

Lake sturgeon live longer than any other fish        Other management efforts focus on tracking           Contact
species in Michigan. Male lake sturgeon live         sturgeon migration and identifying the location
                                                                                                          Jennifer Read
an average of 55 years. Females live 80 to 150       of remaining spawning grounds. Restoration           Assistant Director, Research Coordinator
years. Despite their long lives, sturgeon are slow   efforts involve creating and protecting sturgeon     jenread@umich.edu
to mature. It takes between 8 and 12 years           habitat to enhance spawning success.                 (734) 936-3622
for male lake sturgeon to reach reproductive
maturity and 20 to 25 years for females.             Belle Isle Habitat Project
In early spring, adult sturgeon enter fast           The Detroit River ecosystem supports a remnant
flowing rivers to spawn. Female lake sturgeon        population of lake sturgeon. In 2004, Michigan
spawn once every four years, each depositing         Sea Grant led a consortium of federal, state
millions of eggs on gravel bars. It is estimated     and private groups in the construction of three
that only about 10 to 20 percent of adult lake       sturgeon spawning reefs in the waters off Belle      Michigan Sea Grant College Program
                                                                                                          Michigan Sea Grant is a cooperative program of
sturgeon spawn during a given year.                  Isle. The project represents the largest effort to   the University of Michigan and Michigan State
                                                     date to restore a primitive, wild fish within a      University. Funding: NOAA-National Sea Grant
                                                                                                          College Program with matching funds from
                                                     major urban area in the Great Lakes region. The      the University of Michigan and Michigan State
                                                     reefs are made of limestone rock, cobblestone,       University. Michigan State University and the
      Take the Lake Sturgeon Quiz                                                                         University of Michigan are equal opportunity/
                                                     and coal cinders—materials used by spawning
    and see related standards based                  lake sturgeon in other areas of the Great Lakes.
                                                                                                          affirmative action institutions.


  curriculum on the back of this sheet.              Biologists monitor the reefs to assess sturgeon
                                                     spawning success.



        For more information, see: www.miseagrant.umich.edu/sturgeon
                                                                                                                                                  05-716
                www.miseagrant.umich.edu


Lake sturgeon quiz
Multiple Choice                          True or False                               Fish of the Great Lakes
Female sturgeon produce about how        The State of Michigan prohibits com-        Standards-based Activity:
many eggs?                               mercial fishing for lake sturgeon and       Working with a set of Great Lakes fish
                                         closely regulates sturgeon sport fishing.   cards, students identify distinguishing
a) One hundred (100)                                                                 characteristics of fish and organize
b) Eighty thousand (80,000)              a) True                                     the collection based on similarities
c) Four million (4,000,000)              b) False                                    and differences, as well as into an
                                                                                     interconnected food web.
The sturgeon’s oily swim bladder was     The current lake sturgeon population
                                         is estimated to be ten percent of its       The Great Lakes and other lakes and
often processed to produce isinglass,
                                         historic abundance in Michigan.             rivers of the region are home to an
a type of gelatin used in making what
                                                                                     impressive variety of fish. Among the
type of product?                         a) True                                     species are coldwater fishes like lake
a) Jello                                 b) False                                    trout and lake whitefish, and ancient
b) Beer and wine                                                                     species such as sturgeon and gar.
                                         People once burned huge piles of            Students may be most familiar with
c) Soda pop                                                                          warm-water fishes like sunfish and
                                         sturgeon along the shores of the Detroit
                                         River. They also used oily sturgeon car-    bass. Each major family of fishes has
How many teeth do lake sturgeon have?                                                traits that set it apart from others,
                                         casses as fuel for passing steam ships.
a) Twenty eight (28)                                                                 called distinguishing characteristics.
                                         a) True                                     These characteristics help fish survive
b) Twelve (12)                                                                       in their environment. By observing and
                                         b) False
c) Zero (0)                                                                          comparing distinguishing characteristics,
                                         Sturgeon have uneven or asymmetrical        students begin to understand how fish,
What is the name of the Detroit River    tails like those of sharks.                 like other animals, can be organized and
island closest to the sturgeon habitat                                               classified into meaningful groups, and
project?                                 a) True                                     how these groups are interrelated in the
                                         b) False                                    aquatic food web.
a) Mackinac Island
b) Belle Isle                            When European settlers arrived in the       See Fisheries Learning on the Web
c) Grosse Ile                            region, sturgeon were so numerous           Download fish cards:
                                         during the spring spawning run that         www.miseagrant.umich.edu/flow/U3
Female sturgeon live to be how old?      they were reportedly capable of
                                         capsizing fishing boats.                    Grade level: 4-8
a) 80–150 years old                                                                  Subjects: Science, social studies
b) 11 months old                         a) True                                     Setting: Classroom
c) 15–25 years old                       b) False                                    Duration: 30-60 minutes

                                                                                     Michigan Science Curriculum Standards:
                                                                                     I.1.1, 1.2, 1.5, 1.6
    For the correct answers, see the sturgeon website at                             II.1.2, 1.3, 1.4
                                                                                     III.2.4, 4.2, 5.1, 5.2, 5.3, 5.5
            www.miseagrant.umich.edu/sturgeon
                                                                                     Also see: advanced lesson, Fins, Tails
                                                                                     and Scales: Identifying Great Lakes Fish.
                                                                                     www.projectflow.us

				
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posted:10/20/2011
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