Recent Discoveries in Genesee River, Oneida Lake Creating New Excitement about Restoration of “Living Fossil Fish”
Buffalo, New York – New York Sea Grant has published a suite of lake sturgeon educational resources to support student and public awareness about one of the Great Lakes’ largest and longest-living native fish.
With a grant from the Disney Conservation Fund, New York Sea Grant has discovered a Lake Sturgeon Intermediate Curriculum with activities that meet Next Generation Science and Learning Standards for grades 4-6.
Collateral materials include digital worksheets, field sampling equipment, a fish tracking tag, and the Tale of a Great White Fish book about a fish facing survival challenges similar to those threatening the lake sturgeon.
The Lake Sturgeon Intermediate Curriculum, teaching resources, and six-part video series on lake sturgeon produced in partnership with Cornell University are freely accessible online at http://www.nyseagrant.org/lakesturgeon.
New York Sea Grant’s Great Lakes Fisheries and Ecosystem Health Specialist Stacy Furgal said, “New York Sea Grant’s new suite of lake sturgeon-related conservation and education resources are designed to serve as a springboard into the world of science, environmental stewardship, and STEM-based careers by featuring this charismatic and threatened species that is so important to the Great Lakes region.”
“To broaden the reach of the curriculum to all grade levels, input from teachers participating in two curriculum development workshops is incorporated in each of the 10 lessons,” said Nate Drag, Great Lakes Coastal Literacy Specialist with New York Sea Grant and Associate Director of the Great Lakes Program at the University at Buffalo.
Teachers interested in obtaining a Lake Sturgeon Intermediate Curriculum with supplemental materials to encourage skill development in reading and comprehension, mathematics, ecology, graphing, history, and the arts may contact Nate Drag at 716-645-3610, [email protected].
New Excitement for Lake Sturgeon Restoration Success
Recent identification of lake sturgeon of significant size in New York waters by federal, state, and academic researchers are creating new excitement around the success of a stocking effort designed to restore lake sturgeon to New York’s waters.
On May 25, 2021, U.S. Geological Survey Research Ecologist Dawn Dittman, Ph.D., captured a female lake sturgeon 18 years after it was stocked as a juvenile fish into the Genesee River. Three days later Cornell University fisheries researchers captured a 159-pound, 73.6-inch lake sturgeon, the largest fish ever recorded from Oneida Lake. After the researchers collected data to support their restoration efforts, the fish were released.
Furgal noted, “These recent discoveries of lake sturgeon in New York waters are significant milestones in the effort to restore this unique fish and add to our excitement to share New York Sea Grant’s new teaching resources on lake sturgeon.”
Once abundant in New York State, the lake sturgeon species has been a State-designed “Threatened” species since 1983. Conservation and stocking programs in New York State are restoring the populations of the fish called a “living fossil” for its prehistoric appearance. The fishing of lake sturgeon is still prohibited in New York State.
New York Sea Grant is partnering with personnel from Cornell University, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, New York Sturgeon for Tomorrow, Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe Environment Division, Seneca Park Zoo, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. U.S. Geological Survey, and others in the lake sturgeon restoration effort.
New York Sea Grant is a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration cooperative program of Cornell University and the State University of New York. Learn more at http://www.nyseagrant.org.
For more information on the New York State Lake Sturgeon Recovery Plan 2018-2024, please see https://www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/111557.html.