Volunteers guard Michigan’s spawning sturgeon

From now through early June, volunteers will be standing guard over the Black River in Northern Michigan.

They’ll be on the banks of the river making sure that the lake sturgeon, a rare and threatened species in the state, are able to leave their homes in Black Lake and successfully spawn in the Black River.

Why do the fish need guarding?

Ann Feldhauser, who coordinates the program through the group, Sturgeon for Tomorrow, says the goal is to have a presence on the river 24/7 to prevent illegal taking of the fish.

Photo: Michigan State University.

Ancient fish of the Great Lakes

If you’ve been boating on the Great Lakes this summer, it might it surprise you to know that deep below you lives a rare species of fish that’s been around since the dinosaurs. It can live past 100 years old and can be over six feet long. Most of us know next to nothing about the lake sturgeon, but it is a fascinating creature with a stormy history. Nancy Auer is a professor of biology at Michigan Technological University. She recently co-authored a book with environmentalist Dave Dempsey about the fish.

To give sturgeon more spawning grounds in the St. Clair River, organizations and officials are building underwater reefs made of limestone and Photo: Brian Bienkowski

New St. Clair River reefs to spur sturgeon spawning

Alright, sturgeon … they made your bed, now spawn in it.

Michigan organizations and agencies are building nine rock reefs in the Middle Channel of the St. Clair River to bolster native fish spawning and restore habitat.

A Lake Sturgeon is a large fish that makes a low thunder noise that is below human hearing when spawning. Picture provided by the Environmental Protection Agency.

Sex, water and rock and roll: Sturgeon spawn while singing on the rocks

How does a scientist use sound to save a 150-million-year-old fish? In Wisconsin, Ron Bruch and Chris Bocast are trying to help restore sturgeon stock by listening for the sound they make when spawning that some call “thunder.” The sound can be heard here. “It’s a real low frequency, you can almost feel it instead of hear it,” said Bruch, fish supervisor with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. “One of the important measures of success is knowing your stock is spawning.”

Bocast, a University of Wisconsin-Madison doctoral student in acoustic ecology, discovered the sound while working on an audio book about sturgeons.