Scylla Sunday Sturgeon & Welcome Teddy

We wanted to take part in the Blogville Endangered Species Challenge which  is sponsored by the Blogville Department of Arts and Entertainment. The purpose is to draw attention to the plight of endangered species.We choose the Gulf Sturgeon because it lives close to us. 

The Gulf sturgeon is a federally-listed threatened species (Federal Register 1991) and much of the river, bay and nearshore areas throughout its range are considered critical habitat in support of spawning,in-river holding, or feeding activities. (Critical habitat is a term used in the Endangered Species Act (ESA) to refer to specific geographic areas that are essential for the conservation of a threatened or endangered species and that may require special management and protection.) Catching, harming, or disturbing Gulf sturgeon is prohibited by federal and Mississippi regulations.

Recently we have become aware of a business that is damaging the habitat the Gulf sturgeon needs to survive. Red Creek Off Road is making Red and Black creeks muddy and silty and filling both creeks in, this threatens Gulf of Mexico Sturgeon since their best-known resting and congregating area in the Pascagoula around mid-summer is the natural "lake" at the mouth of Black Creek.

We learned about the Gulf Sturgeon from the University of South Mississippi's Gulf Coast Research Laboratory. They are very interesting fish. Sturgeons are an ancient group of fish dating back about 200 million years to the age of dinosaurs. Gulf sturgeon are a subspecies of Atlantic sturgeon, Acipenser oxyrinchus. It is very difficult to visually distinguish between the two. Worldwide there are 27 sturgeon species and two closely related species of paddlefish.
  • Scientific Name: Acipenser oxyrinchus desotoi
  • Common name: Gulf Sturgeon, Gulf of Mexico Sturgeon
  • Order: Acipenseriformes
  • Family: Acipenseridae
  • Management Category: Threatened
The Gulf sturgeon, Acipenser oxyrinchus desotoi, is a large, primitive fish that has bony plates, or "scutes," rather than scales and a hard, extended snout.  Adult Gulf sturgeon range from 4 feet (1-2.5 m) in length and weight up to 200 pounds. Females attain larger sizes than males. Gulf sturgeon can live for as long as 60 years, but their average lifespan is about 20-25 years.

Gulf sturgeon are anadromous as adults, meaning that they spend time in both saltwater and freshwater, like salmon. Adults migrate upriver from the Gulf of Mexico in the springtime to spawn, returning to their natal streams to spawn, again similar to salmon. That is why the Black Creek habitat is so vital to them (Black Creek feeds into the Pascagoula River). The total number of adult Gulf sturgeon is unknown. However, the population in the seven coastal rivers of the Gulf of Mexico inhabited by Gulf sturgeon is estimated at more than 15,000 adults. Of those rivers, the Suwannee River in Georgia and Florida supports the most viable subpopulation, estimated at more than 9,000 adults in the mid-2000s. The subpopulation estimate for mature Gulf sturgeon in the Choctawhatchee River in Alabama and Florida is about 3,000 fish. However, estimates for other rivers (Pearl, Pascagoula, Escambia, Yellow, and Apalachicola) average around 400.

Current threats include the following.
  • construction of water control structures, such as dams and sills, mostly after 1950, exacerbated habitat loss
  • dredging
  • groundwater extraction
  • irrigation and runoff
  • flow alterations
  • poor water quality
  • contaminants, primarily from industrial sources
Current Research
Since 2007, faculty and staff of GCRL's Fisheries Ecology Lab have worked closely with colleagues at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Engineer Research and Development Center (USACE-ERDC) in Vicksburg to study Gulf Sturgeon ecology and movements.  Currently, there are three joint projects: the Pascagoula River, the Gulfport Harbor Expansion Project, and Ship Island Restoration. Dr. Mark Peterson is principal investigator for all three projects. Todd Slack, from the USACE-ERDC, is co-PI on the Gulfport Harbor and Ship Island projects.

Pascagoula River Project
The Pascagoula River is the only large river in the lower 48 States that is not dammed or has sills on the main stream. GCRL's longest running project is conducted on this beautiful and wild river. Their research has provided considerable data on Gulf Sturgeon movements and ecology.  They tag Gulf Sturgeon in the Pascagoula River as well as in the Pearl River system.

What you can do to help the Gulf sturgeon
Help protect their habitat. The Pascagoula River is being threatened with a dam by George County because they want to create two fake lakes for recreation.  You can read more about it at American Rivers, We Shouldn’t Mess with the Pascagoula, as well as finding out how to help prevent it.

We also need to get media attention to the damage Red Creek Off Road is doing to their habitat. If you can do a Facebook Post, Tweet, or Blog about it that would be great. #Mississippi #PascagoulaRiver

Now I was a bit puzzled about how I could take a picture with a sturgeon since they live in water and I don't really care for getting wet but I found a solution.

Socks and I helped capture, tag, and release a Sturgeon on the Pascagoula River, and I snapped a selfie with it.

Before we go we want to welcome Teddy from Two Spoiled Cats to blogville. Socks and I advise Teddy to enjoy being a kitten and not to be in a hurry to grow up. Fenris and Tuiren want him to know not to be afraid of dogs and Yin, Yang and Chimera just want to know if he will come over and PLAY.  ~Scylla, reporting for ATCAD


Summer said...

I am so afraid for all the endangered species right now. They need advocates more than ever!

Unknown said...

Good for you, you good kitties and doggies. You have a flair with fish photos!

Little Miss Titch said...

its going to be tough for all wild life now,great post today,xx Speedy

Anonymous said...

Hello!!! Thank you for the info on the sturgeon AND thank you for joining my Welcome Bog Hop! I'm meeting a lot of new friends today for sure - I'm one lucky boy!

Baby Hugs, Teddy

pilch92 said...

That is too bad about the sturgeon, I hope they can be saved. Great welcome to Teddy.

Erin the Cat Princess said...

A very informative post, I do hope that you can stop all the nasties going on on that river so the balance can be maintained. Seems like without advocates for all wildlife species, everything will end up endangered then extinct by mans hand and for leisure or money. Lovely fishy selfie this week, I bet that fish took some handling! Purrs ERin

Timmy Tomcat said...

We have heard about the threat to the Sturgeon and hope something can be done. Thanks for letting us know about the different ways they can be impacted so we can help. Scylla that is a great selfie you and Socks did. What a regal fish!
Welcome to Teddy! He is a wonderful new addition to Two Spoiled Cats.

The Adventures of the LLB Gang said...

Wow, we hadn't heard about the Sturgeon threat, thanks so much for sharing it!
Dory, Jakey, Arty & Bilbo

Momma Kat and Her Bear Cat said...

Not many cats can say they've taken a selfie with a fish ... and you two knocked it out of the park!

Deziz World said...

MeOW Dat was very innerestin'. We don't eat fishy's here, so at least we're not pawrt of da purroblem. Big hugs to all.

Luv ya'

Dezi and Raena

Molly and my Mom - The Fast and the Furriest said...

Wonderful write up on your endangered species. Mom and I learned a lot. Thanks for the blog!

Molly and my Mom @ The Fast and The Furriest

My Mind's Eye said...

That is a whopper fish there.. Thanks for pawticipating in the hop hugs
Madi and mim

Millie and Walter said...

We learned lots about your sturgeon. That also was great advice for Teddy.

Unknown said...

I had no idea there were different types of sturgeon! We have a set in Oregon, and I remember watching them flit down below when we'd visit the big dams along the Columbia. So majestic. I'm so sad to hear your set is facing such difficulties.

Jean from Welcome to the Menagerie

Dash Kitten Crew said...

Red Creek Off Road look a bunch of ignorant peasants to us. Don't have about the environment and they will be first to whine when anything goes wrong. I wonder if we can do a blog post.

Marjorie and the Dash Kitten Gang

Meezer's Mews & Terrieristical Woofs said...

That was an informative post about the endangered sturgeon.

We like that selfie! OMC!!

Alasandra, The Cats and Dogs said...

It would be great if you could do a post. The more attention we can get the more likely the business will be forced to stop destroying the environment. The local media doesn't usually cover anything that isn't in the cities unless there is already a lot of publicity about it.