Georgia’s lake sturgeon could make a comeback

The fish were wiped out in the 1970s

ATLANTA, Ga. (CBS46) - The lake sturgeon in Georgia’s Coosa River could be ready for a comeback, right on cue. The fish were first wiped out from the river in the 1970s due to poor water quality and overfishing. Lake sturgeon are both a sport fish and a highly sought-after meal; their eggs are used in caviar.

The Georgia Department of Natural Resources began a program to reintroduce the fish in 2002. Wisconsin’s lake sturgeon are similar to those eliminated from the Coosa River, so Georgia government officials brought incubated eggs from Wisconsin down to the Coosa River.

We’re just now seeing the fruits of their labor. It can take 20 years for female sturgeon to reach sexual maturity, so researchers were unsure the project would be successful until now. University of Georgia Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources professor Marty Hamel confirmed the program found three females with mature eggs.

Scientists are using the same technology found in your pet’s microchip to identify the fish and keep track of the population.

Hamel said, “we’re on the verge of determining if these fish are going to successfully reproduce and provide their own progeny. So, it’s an exciting time from that standpoint. We’re on the cusp of figuring out these really important aspects to see if the population will be sustainable and ultimately gauge the success of the reintroduction program.”

Ellie Parker

Ellie Parker joined Atlanta News First as a Digital Content Producer in July 2022.