GV’s Annis Water Resources Institute contains endangered sturgeon

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GV’s Annis Water Resources Institute contains endangered sturgeon

COURTESY \ Amanda Pitts

COURTESY \ Amanda Pitts

COURTESY \ Amanda Pitts

COURTESY \ Amanda Pitts

Kylie Elwell, Staff Reporter

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Grand Valley State University’s Annis Water Resource Institute (AWRI) recently contained endangered sturgeon while the Muskegon River was being treated with pesticides. These sturgeon are a state threatened species in Michigan, a remnant population compared to what it once was. 

The fish were removed from the river prior to the lampricide treatment, which targeted invasive lampreys, and released back into the wild Sept. 11. Since the water chemistry and treatment affects the lake sturgeon, they needed to be removed for this process. 

“The Little River Band of Ottawa Indians helped with capturing as many juveniles as they could before treatment,” said GVSU professor Carl Ruetz. “Only four of the juveniles were captured, meaning the year of reproduction wasn’t great.”

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service treats rivers around the nation against the invasive sea lamprey. The sturgeon are a long-lived species, and extra measures are taken to protect the remaining population.

“The four juveniles that were captured were kept in two 600 gallon tanks with a small amount of water in the bottom of them for about a week,” Ruetz said. 

To capture the sturgeon, Little River Band of Ottawa Indians went out on the river at night and searched for the fish by using a spotlighting technique — making the sturgeon visible by their shining eyes. There is a high mortality rate for young sturgeon, so keeping them safe and healthy is important. 

AWRI’s mission statement is to integrate research, education and outreach to enhance fresh water resources.

“We want to engage a variety of individuals — Grand Valley students, K-12 and the general public — about awareness of the issues of the Great Lakes,” Ruetz said. 

Becoming involved with AWRI is a great opportunity for hands on experience and fieldwork. They offer at least six different positions of paid summer internships each year. For more information visit the AWRI page on the GVSU website.