Doug Peterson, a professor of fisheries research in the Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources, received $50,000 from the Georgia Department of Natural Resources to study the passage of Gulf sturgeon at Jim Woodruff Dam at the southwest corner of Georgia.
The now-threatened sturgeon once spawned naturally in the fresh waters of the Flint and Chattahoochee rivers, but dams blocked their passage. While a bypass to the dam may save the embattled fish, more data are needed to determine if such an effort would prove fruitful.
Peterson and his colleagues will test the hypothesis by capturing 10 adult males during spawning season at the base of the dam and outfitting them with sonic transmitters. They then will release the sturgeon in the fresh waters above the dam and track them to see if they can safely navigate to spawning grounds and ultimately return to the sea via locks that allow the passage of ships.
A second phase of their research will involve capturing both male and female sturgeon to see if they can successfully spawn and if their offspring can return to the sea.