Reef gives Great Lakes sturgeon
place to meet, mate
DETROIT -- A $500,000 federally backed project aims to
give ancient Great Lakes sturgeon a better place to meet
An artificial spawning reef just off the city's Belle
Isle park in the Detroit River will be ready in time for
the sturgeon's spawning run next spring, local, state
and federal officials announced Thursday.
The goal is to bring back natural breeding in the river
after more than a century.
"There is very limited evidence that they are successfully
spawning at all" in the river, said John Hartig,
Detroit River navigator.
In the late 1800s, fishing nets caught many of the hard-scaled
fish, which can live 150 years and reach 7 feet.
"We mined out the gravel by dredging the river for
shipping, and for building the buildings you see in Detroit
today," said Bruce Manny, a fishery biologist with
the U.S. Geological Survey. "No gravel, no spawning.
"Left with nothing but the mucky, spongy bottom
of the river, the females simply never lay eggs."
Scientists have found sturgeon spawning in other areas
of Michigan, including the St. Clair River near Port Huron
and near Algonac, the Black River near Cheboygan, the
St. Marys River in the Upper Peninsula and some tributaries
of Lake Michigan.
The project will create three 50-by-80 foot squares of
rock and gravel under 20 to 28 feet of water in a fast-moving
section of the river.