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Detecting acoustically tagged green sturgeon in the Northeast Pacific Ocean


Identifying critical habitats is challenging for a relatively rare species like green sturgeon (Acipenser medirostris), which spends most of its life at sea. We used a fixed array and an autonomous underwater vehicle (Slocum glider) as monitoring platforms to detect acoustically tagged green sturgeon in the coastal ocean. For 1 month in 2018 during spring (May) and again in fall (September–October), both methods were used simultaneously to detect sturgeon bearing uniquely coded transmitters. For the fixed array, nine acoustic receivers were interspersed with three sentinel transmitters along a single line of latitude off Winchester Bay, OR. For the glider, two 3-week deployments were completed along the coast of Oregon from nearshore to the 200-m depth contour. For both deployments, the glider flew a zig-zag course southward as it profiled the water column and collected water quality information. Tagged green sturgeon and sentinel transmitters were successfully detected by both the fixed array and the glider. The fixed array provided indications of onshore and offshore movement, while the glider indicated along-shore movement. Although more green sturgeon were detected by the fixed array, the glider provided information on potential sturgeon aggregation areas. In addition, this application of the underwater glider may provide a unique opportunity for public engagement, teaching, and outreach.

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Data availability

The data generated during this study are available from the corresponding author on reasonable request.


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Steve Lindley provided important insights during both the project inception and data interpretation. We are very grateful for the help from Polly Rankin, Shay Meskill, and the captains and crews of R/V Elakha and R/V Zephyr. Port Biologists of the ODFW Marine Resources Program helped disseminate the location of the array to avoid entanglements with fishing gear. This project was funded by NOAA’s Cooperative Research Program and we thank Kathleen Jewett, Ruth Tajon, Doug Dey, Chris Leuken, and Sandy Downing for helping with project administration. JoAnne Butzerin and Ben Sandford provided valuable editorial comments. Thanks also to the many researchers that have tagged animals with acoustic transmitters and have been willing to share their tagging metadata. This work was greatly enriched by inclusion of these data.


This study was funded by the National Marine Fisheries Service, Cooperative Research Program.

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Correspondence to Mary L. Moser.

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No approval of research ethics committees was required to accomplish the goals of this study because the green sturgeon observed in this study were tagged previously by a coastwide consortium of researchers following protocols approved by the National Marine Fisheries Service (Kahn and Mohead 2010).

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The authors declare no competing interests.

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Moser, M.L., Erickson, D.L., Corbett, S. et al. Detecting acoustically tagged green sturgeon in the Northeast Pacific Ocean. Environ Biol Fish (2022).

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  • Autonomous underwater vehicle
  • Marine
  • Habitat
  • Acoustic telemetry
  • Migration
  • Distribution