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Great Lakes Article:

Reef gives Great Lakes sturgeon place to meet, mate
Associated Press
11/21/03

DETROIT -- A $500,000 federally backed project aims to give ancient Great Lakes sturgeon a better place to meet and mate.

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.

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