Atlantic sturgeon research in Minas Basin, inner Bay of Fundy

by Laura Logan-Chesney.  

From 2014-2016, I had the honour of receiving the Donald G. Dodds scholarship twice from the ASFWB. I would like to extend my gratitude to everyone involved in fundraising for this award. It was so appreciated and gave me a financial boost while I completed my Masters research.

I was supervised by Dr. Mike Stokesbury in the Coastal Ecology Lab at Acadia University in Wolfville, Nova Scotia. In December, I completed my Masters thesis which examined Atlantic sturgeon (Acipenser oxyrinchus oxyrinchus) population-specific movement patterns, residency, grouping behaviour and surfacing behaviour in Minas Basin, inner Bay of Fundy, Canada. I’m now looking forward to publishing my data chapters. The following are some of the highlights of my Masters research. I presented some of this work at the ASFWB annual general meeting in Summerside, PEI.

Every summer, Atlantic sturgeon from both Canadian and USA spawning populations aggregate in Minas Basin to feed on benthic invertebrates in the intertidal mudflats. Using acoustic telemetry, we found that Atlantic sturgeon from the Saint John River (NB) spawning population and the Kennebec River (ME) spawning population arrived into and departed from Minas Basin around the same time each year. Atlantic sturgeon from both populations also showed similar movement patterns around Minas Basin and an overall preference for the Southern Bight, likely due to the rich foraging opportunities in this area. A few Atlantic sturgeon from both populations showed grouping behaviour, in which two or more fish appeared to travel around Minas Basin together. Using depth data from pop-up archival tags, we found that Atlantic sturgeon commonly exhibited surfacing behaviour (including breaching and porpoising) while in Minas Basin. We suspected that buoyancy control, by gulping air at the surface, was the main purpose of surfacing behaviour in Atlantic sturgeon.

If you’d like to learn more, my thesis will be available on the Acadia University Library website. To check out some of the other cool research going on in the Coastal Ecology Lab, go to:

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