Article

Estuaries and Coasts

, Volume 32, Issue 2, pp 360-374

Estuarine and Coastal Habitat Use of Gulf Sturgeon (Acipenser oxyrinchus desotoi) in the North-Central Gulf of Mexico

  • Stephen T. RossAffiliated withDepartment of Biological Sciences, University of Southern MississippiDepartment of Biology and Museum of Southwestern Biology, MSC 03-2020 1, University of New Mexico Email author 
  • , W. Todd SlackAffiliated withMississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks, Museum of Natural Science
  • , Ryan J. HeiseAffiliated withDepartment of Biological Sciences, University of Southern MississippiDivision of Inland Fisheries, North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission
  • , Mark A. DugoAffiliated withDepartment of Biological Sciences, University of Southern Mississippi
  • , Howard RogillioAffiliated withLouisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries
  • , Bryant R. BowenAffiliated withDepartment of Biological Sciences, University of Southern MississippiRegion VI Fisheries Management Section, Wildlife Resources Division, Georgia Department of Natural Resources
  • , Paul MickleAffiliated withDepartment of Biological Sciences, University of Southern Mississippi
  • , Richard W. HeardAffiliated withDepartment of Coastal Sciences, The University of Southern Mississippi

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Abstract

Gulf sturgeon are anadromous, spawning in freshwater and returning to the marine environment to feed. Herein, we document the marine distribution and timing of movement in and out of the marine environment of Gulf sturgeon natal to the Pascagoula and Pearl rivers (MS and LA). From 1999 to 2004, we attached sonic transmitters to 194 fish averaging 151 (MS) to 160 (LA) cm in fork length. We located 56 different Gulf sturgeon in the estuarine or marine environments, some multiple times. Fish were distributed nonrandomly, being found primarily in shallow water (mean = 3.9 m) in barrier island passes. Benthic samples taken at Gulf sturgeon telemetry location sites were dominated by Florida lancelets, sand dollars, annelids, haustoriid amphipods, and mollusks—all documented prey of Gulf sturgeon. Movement into salt water consistently occurred in October and November; movement back into rivers or low salinity estuaries was complete by the end of March.

Keywords

Gulf sturgeon Marine habitat use Acipenser oxyrinchus desotoi Acipenseridae Conservation Anadromous fishes Gulf of Mexico