Other Migratory Fish of the Ocklawaha River FL

Other Migratory Fish and Crustacean Species of the Ocklawaha River, Florida

 
An Information, Opinion, & Sources Report
Compiled by Ocklawahaman Paul Nosca
With the assistance of Captain Erika Ritter & Roy R. "Robin" Lewis III

Revised:  22 October 2013

 
NOTE: Some of the credible written works by others (i.e., magazine/newspaper articles, web pages, etc.)
 that are referenced in this report would not be considered "peer-reviewed" scientific documentation.
 

  INTRODUCTION

 

Before Rodman Dam was completed in 1968, fish & other aquatic animals were able to migrate unimpeded up & down the Ocklawaha River from its mouth at the St. Johns River to as far upstream as Silver Springs (56 miles) &/or Moss Bluff Dam (64 miles). Most, if not all, of the following native fish & crustacean species of the St. Johns River system were among those migrants: striped bass, channel catfish, white catfish, American eel, striped mullet (a.k.a. black mullet), big claw river shrimp (a.k.a. giant river prawn), American shad, Atlantic sturgeon, & shortnose sturgeon. Eight of the nine preceding named species (except striped bass) will be discussed in this report. "Striped Bass of the Ocklawaha River, Florida" reports about that important migratory fish & the Rodman-caused loss of its only suitable spawning habitat in the entire St. Johns Basin.

 

NOTE: As a result of Rodman (Kirkpatrick) Dam, the only available way for fish to travel between the St. Johns River & the Ocklawaha River upstream of Rodman Reservoir is to move through the Buckman Lock of the usually still-water Cross Florida Barge Canal. The average recorded flow downstream from this lock towards the St. Johns is only about 2.5% of the historic average flow that the Ocklawaha River once provided for the benefit of migrating aquatic creatures. Lockage operations with a downstream flow of water to the St. Johns are normally performed only a couple of times daily. Thus, the Cross Florida Barge Canal rarely ever offers any guiding stream current for riverine species to follow.
 
Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) (2002a):
"The Rodman Dam acts as a barrier to the dispersal of migratory fish and West Indian manatees that historically used the Ocklawaha River system. Removal of the dam would restore historic connections and restore the fish population of the Silver River."

 

 

TABLE OF CONTENTS

 

1.  CHANNEL CATFISH & WHITE CATFISH

2.  AMERICAN EEL

3.  STRIPED MULLET (a.k.a. BLACK MULLET)

4.  BIG CLAW RIVER SHRIMP (a.k.a. GIANT RIVER PRAWN)

5.  AMERICAN SHAD

6.  ATLANTIC STURGEON & SHORTNOSE STURGEON

REFERENCES


1.  CHANNEL CATFISH & WHITE CATFISH

 

CHANNEL CATFISH (Ictalurus punctatus) & WHITE CATFISH (Ameiurus catus) are stream current orientated native freshwater species that migrate many miles in river systems searching for food & suitable spawning sites. In late spring or early summer massive "runs" of these catfish from the larger St. Johns spawn in the Lower Ocklawaha River blocked by Kirkpatrick (Rodman) Dam from proceeding any further upstream. Without a steady current in the Cross Florida Barge Canal to guide them back & forth through the Buckman Lock--which is their only available St. Johns River/Rodman Reservoir portal--a much smaller number of channel & white catfish (compared to pre-1968 standards) travel between the St. Johns & the Ocklawaha at Eureka or beyond to Silver Springs/Moss Bluff.

 

Moody (1963) in a Florida Wildlife magazine article:

"Some of these fish [largemouth bass] were found to have traveled more than 100 miles from Lake George."

"Observations indicate that channel and white catfishes also move considerable distances, usually in schools."

 

Martin (1966) book chapter (pages 194-196) by Ross Allen:

"Channel catfish attract more attention at Silver Springs than any other fish. They are numerous, particularly around the deep spring holes, where they can be seen maintaining a position by swimming against the current. Large blue-black fish that attain a weight of 40 to 50 pounds, they have broad heads and thick cheeks and some 'old timers' have white spots on top of their heads...Many of these large catfish are seen in a deep spring hole which is called 'Catfish Hotel, with running water in every room'"
 
"The white catfish, oddly enough, is not white in Silver Springs but is dark blue in color. Hundreds of them congregate in the Catfish Hotel, and may be seen in other spots hiding under logs or resting quietly on the bottom."

 

Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) (2003a) webpage about channel catfish:

"Habitat - Most common in big rivers and streams. Prefers some current, and deep water with sand, gravel or rubble bottoms."

"Spawning Habits - Spawning occurs mostly in rivers and streams in the spring and early summer when waters warm to 70 to 85 degrees."

 

FWC (2003b) webpage about white catfish:

"Range - In Florida, they are found statewide in rivers and streams..."

"Habitat - Usually found in slow-moving streams..."

"Spawning Habits...Spawning occurs in the early summer when waters reach about 70 degrees."

 

Munch et al. (2007):

"Conduct a study for channel catfish. Channel catfish should be experimentally radiotagged and placed in the Silver River to monitor habitat use and movement. Such a study would reveal factors influencing the decline in channel catfish in the system."

 

"Catfish and mullet were present in high abundance in Silver Springs fifty years ago and had largely disappeared during Knight's 1978-79 study and also were observed in low abundance in the current study."

"This evaluation of fish species documented a change in the dominant fish species from mullet and catfish to gizzard shad...These changes were attributed to the construction of Rodman Dam downstream on the Ocklawaha River."

 

 

2.  AMERICAN EEL

 

AMERICAN EEL (Anguilla rostrata) is a native catadromous marine fish species that lives in freshwater river systems or brackish water much of the time but must spawn in the saltwater ocean (Sargasso Sea). Stopped by Rodman Dam from proceeding any further up the mainstream Ocklawaha from the St. Johns & without a steady current in the Cross Florida Barge Canal to guide them back & forth through the Buckman Lock--which is their only available St. Johns River/Rodman Reservoir portal--a much smaller number of American eel (compared to pre-1968 standards) travel between the St. Johns & the Ocklawaha at Eureka or beyond to Silver Springs/Moss Bluff.

 

Bass & Guillory (1976):

"Also the blockage of migrations of striped bass, American eel and possibly, American shad, which now exists in the form of Rodman Dam, would be removed. Restoration of these spawning runs would have a positive economic impact upon commercial fisheries as well as enhancing the sport fisheries."

 

"Prior to the construction of Rodman Dam, eight marine species (American eel, American shad, hogchoker, Atlantic needlefish, striped bass, sailfin molly, white mullet, striped mullet) ranged up to Moss Bluff Dam and/or Silver Springs (McLane, 1955)."


Jordan (1994):

"Adult American eel were probably more abundant historically, but have undergone a decline in the Ocklawaha River and throughout the St. Johns River. These observations support the limited historical information on migratory fish usage of the Ocklawaha River. Therefore, it appears that Rodman Dam poses a barrier to the spread of a variety of migratory fishes that historically used the river system."

 

Clugston (2002):

"Adult American eel, a catadromous species, was found in the reservoir and river by many sources (Continental Shelf Associates, Inc. 1994). Jordan (1994a) did not collect any adult eels during the six-month study in 1994, but did collect one elver below the spillway of Rodman Dam. Rodman Dam spillway has served as an elver collecting point for an eel aquaculturist for many years..."

 

"American eel elvers, which normally move up freshwater rivers and streams to grow and mature are concentrated each Spring at the dam's spillway and have been collected there for many years by an eel aquaculturist. The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission has substantial harvest data and limited assessment data that indicates the American eel populations along the eastern coast of the United States have declined in recent years. They point out that the blockage or restriction to upstream migration by dams has reduced the amount of habitat required to support eel distribution and growth (Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission 2000)."

 

FDEP (2002b):
"The current configuration of lock and dam limits or restricts access by some migratory fish to the Ocklawaha River; most notably the American eel (Anguilla rostrata), striped bass (Morone saxatilis), mullet, and American shad (Alosa sapidissima)."

FWC (2003c) webpage about American eel:

"Range - American eels are found in waters with coastal access along the Atlantic seaboard of the US."

"Habitat - Eels are primarily riverine but access ponds and lakes. They orient to structure and flow."

"Spawning Habits - Spawning is still not well understood but fascinating. The adults migrate to the ocean during autumn...The fish head to a location near the Sargasso Sea where they spawn en masse and apparently die."

 

 

3.  STRIPED MULLET (a.k.a. BLACK MULLET)

 

STRIPED MULLET a.k.a. BLACK MULLET (Mugil cephalus) is a native catadromous marine fish species that lives in freshwater river systems or brackish water much of the time but must migrate to spawn in the saltwater ocean. Mullet help clean water environments by removing detritus & micro-algae. Stopped by Rodman Dam from proceeding any further up the mainstream Ocklawaha from the St. Johns & without a steady current in the Cross Florida Barge Canal to guide them back & forth through the Buckman Lock--which is their only available St. Johns River/Rodman Reservoir portal--a much smaller number of striped mullet (compared to pre-1968 standards) travel between the St. Johns & the Ocklawaha at Eureka or beyond to Silver Springs/Moss Bluff.

 

Bass & Guillory (1976):

"Prior to the construction of Rodman Dam, eight marine species (American eel, American shad, hogchoker, Atlantic needlefish, striped bass, sailfin molly, white mullet, striped mullet) ranged up to Moss Bluff Dam and/or Silver Springs (McLane, 1955)."

 

FDEP (2002b):
"The current configuration of lock and dam limits or restricts access by some migratory fish to the Ocklawaha River; most notably the American eel (Anguilla rostrata), striped bass (Morone saxatilis), mullet, and American shad (Alosa sapidissima)."

Munch et al. (2007):

"Catfish and mullet were present in high abundance in Silver Springs fifty years ago and had largely disappeared during Knight's 1978-79 study and also were observed in low abundance in the current study."

"This evaluation of fish species documented a change in the dominant fish species from mullet and catfish to gizzard shad...These changes were attributed to the construction of Rodman Dam downstream on the Ocklawaha River."

 

"The abundance of estuarine fishes such as striped mullet and Atlantic needlefish may have declined in the system following construction of the dam at Rodman Reservoir."

 
"Another factor long recognized as having an important impact on the Silver River fish populations and therefore the entire aquatic ecosystem is the Rodman Dam on the Ocklawaha River downstream. Both Knight (1980) and Odum (1976) implicated the dam in changing populations of seagoing fish species through physical blockage of their migrations and breeding success. Odum suggested that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers construct a fish ladder around the dam while Knight proposed testing his theories about consumer control by removing the dam entirely."

Bester (2011) Florida Museum of Natural History webpage:

"Mullet are diurnal feeders, consuming mainly zooplankton, dead plant matter, and detritus. Mullet have thick-walled gizzard-like segments in their stomach along with a long gastrointestinal tract that enables them to feed on detritus."
 
"They are an ecologically important link in the energy flow within estuarine communities. Feeding by sucking up the top layer of sediments, striped mullet remove detritus and microalgae. They also pick up some sediments which function to grind food in the gizzard-like portion of the stomach. Mullet also graze on epiphytes and epifauna from seagrasses as well as ingest surface scum containing microalgae at the air-water interface."

 

"The striped mullet is catadromous, that is, they spawn in saltwater yet spend most of their lives in freshwater. During the autumn and winter months, adult mullet migrate far offshore in large aggregations to spawn. In the Gulf of Mexico, mullet have been observed spawning 40-50 miles (65-80 km) offshore in water over 3,280 feet (1,000 m) deep. In other locations, spawning has been reported along beaches as well as offshore."
 
Gilmore (2012) in a Florida Sportsman magazine article:
"What makes them even more valuable is that they are responsible for the greatest transport of organic material, living wet weight (biomass), from coastal ecosystems: freshwater streams, grass marshes and mangrove forests, to the open estuary and ocean."


 

4.  BIG CLAW RIVER SHRIMP (a.k.a. GIANT RIVER PRAWN)

 

BIG CLAW RIVER SHRIMP a.k.a. GIANT RIVER PRAWN (Macrobrachium carcinus) is a native brackish-freshwater shrimp (not a fish). Specimens were observed at Silver Springs at least into the 1960's. They would reside in the river's deep holes & spring crevasses. These very large crustaceans live much of their lives in freshwater but must have brackish water for reproduction, which would require migration between the Ocklawaha & the St. Johns estuary--Rodman Dam makes this extremely difficult.

 

Martin (1966) book chapter (pages 204-205) by Ross Allen:

"GIANT SHRIMP, Macrobrachium carcinus. These look like lobster or crayfish to the layman, in fact, like anything except shrimp because they are so large. Some GIANT SHRIMP grow as long as 22 inches with feelers much longer and have long claws with a heavy body that is beautifully marked with green and yellow patterns."

"This shrimp is rare but probably more common in Silver Springs than anywhere else. It usually lives in deep holes or underneath large rocks. One has been living for years beneath the sunken boat in the Bridal Chamber."

 

"THIS IS NOT A LOBSTER [in this photo] - Rarely seen, let alone caught, a giant shrimp Macrobrachium carcinus, taken from Silver Springs, is being measured here at about 21 inches. The long pincers are handy for catching small fish but even larger fish stay away from these giant claws. Shrimp like this one live in the subterranean channels deep under the springs."

 

Dugan et al. (1975):

"Six species of Macrobrachium are native to Florida (Holthius and Provenzano, 1970). In order of decreasing size they are M. carcinus, M. acanthuus,..."

 

"Macrobrachium carcinus is the largest Florida species; maximum recorded [body only, not including the claws] size is 233 mm."

 

"Most species of Macrobrachium have a similar life cycle. Adults reside primarily in rivers, lakes, and canals, while larvae require brackish water..."
 
FDEP (2010):
"A large freshwater shrimp, Macrobrachium carcinus, has been reported from the [Silver Springs]
springs (Martin 1966). There is also a site record from Silver Glen Springs in the Ocala National Forest (Williams 1984). The shrimp was regarded as rare in the spring but not infrequently seen in deep holes and under large rock outcrops. Whether this interesting species still occurs in Silver Springs is unknown."
 
Search for "Macrobrachium carcinus" or "Big Claw River Shrimp" in these two FWC documents:
http://myfwc.com/media/1487124/03_SGCN(2).pdf

http://myfwc.com/media/2235922/ActionPlan.pdf
 

 

5.  AMERICAN SHAD

 

AMERICAN SHAD (Alosa sapidissima) is a native anadromous fish species that lives in saltwater much of the time but must spawn in a freshwater river. American shad are a marine game fish which can only be legally taken with a Florida saltwater fishing license on "hook & line gear." They are still able to successfully reproduce in the St. Johns River--their eggs apparently don't require swift current for hatching. American shad normally are found dead, in great numbers, after their December to April spawn in more upper (southern) parts of the St. Johns River.

 

No recent reports have been found from the Ocklawaha River upstream of Rodman Reservoir regarding American shad observations or evidence of their after-spawn die-off. American shad do not have the threadfin dorsal fin that gizzard shad & threadfin shad have. Large-size shad that have been verified recently from both above & below Rodman Dam have all been gizzard shad (Dorosoma cepedianum), which is a native freshwater species. Gizzard shad can grow beyond 20 inches long & are legally netted by the hundreds at the Rodman spillway for crab-trap bait by commercial fishermen. 

 Bass & Guillory (1976):

"Also the blockage of migrations of striped bass, American eel and possibly, American shad, which now exists in the form of Rodman Dam, would be removed. Restoration of these spawning runs would have a positive economic impact upon commercial fisheries as well as enhancing the sport fisheries."

 

"Prior to the construction of Rodman Dam, eight marine species (American eel, American shad, hogchoker, Atlantic needlefish, striped bass, sailfin molly, white mullet, striped mullet) ranged up to Moss Bluff Dam and/or Silver Springs (McLane, 1955)."

 

Jordan (1994):
"Discussions with veteran commercial fishermen revealed that striped bass were common to abundant in the Ocklawaha River up to Moss Bluff Dam, while anadromous shad were common but did not spawn in the river."

 

Clugston (2002):

"The anadromous American shad was documented only in the river by a single specimen collected by McLane (1955). A relatively recent study designed to evaluate the use of the lower Ocklawaha River by migratory fishes during the Spring spawning season did not collect American shad (Jordan 1994a). However, veteran commercial fishermen were interviewed and indicated that American shad as well as striped bass were common historically in the Ocklawaha River. American shad or hickory shad (species uncertain) were seen at Silver Springs prior to the construction of Rodman Dam (J. M. Barkuloo, retired U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, personal communications)."

 

"Although data are lacking, anecdotal information indicates American shad were once common in the river but suggest they never spawned in significant numbers."

 

FDEP (2002b):
"The current configuration of lock and dam limits or restricts access by some migratory fish to the Ocklawaha River; most notably the American eel (Anguilla rostrata), striped bass (Morone saxatilis), mullet, and American shad (Alosa sapidissima)."

 

FWC (2003d) webpage about American shad:

"Range - St. Lawrence River, Canada to St. Johns River, Florida. In Florida, it occurs only in the northeast, mostly in the St. Johns River and Nassau River."

"Habitat - Anadromous; lives most of its life at sea."

"Spawning Habits - Most spawning occurs between late December and early April in the stretch of the St. Johns River from Sanford to Melbourne. Eggs are spawned directly into the river where they drift freely for 2-3 days...In the St. Johns River and all other rivers below Cape Fear, North Carolina, SHAD die after they spawn."

 

 

6.  ATLANTIC STURGEON & SHORTNOSE STURGEON

 

ATLANTIC STURGEON (Acipenser oxyrinchus oxyrinchus) & SHORTNOSE STURGEON (Acipenser brevirostrum) are native but extremely rare anadromous marine fish species.
 
2012 St. Johns River Basin STURGEON NEWS:  Reportedly, a 38-in long sturgeon was caught during January by an angler from the St. Johns River just south of the Fuller Warren Bridge. The fish, estimated to weigh at least 15 lbs, was supposedly identified by FWC as an Atlantic sturgeon. View a photo of this sturgeon (with caption) on page 80 of the March 2012 issue of Florida Sportsman magazine.
 

 

ATLANTIC STURGEON present official status: SEE IMPORTANT NEWS UPDATE NEXT...

http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/pdfs/fr/fr77-5914.pdf

"Federal Register / Vol. 77, No. 24 / Monday, February 6, 2012 / Rules and Regulations

DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
50 CFR Part 224 [Docket No. 090219208–1762–02] RIN 0648–XN50
Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Final Listing Determinations for Two Distinct Population Segments of Atlantic Sturgeon (Acipenser oxyrinchus
oxyrinchus) in the Southeast

AGENCY: National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce.
ACTION: Final rule.
SUMMARY: We, NMFS, issue a final determination to list the Carolina and South Atlantic distinct population segments (DPSs) of Atlantic sturgeon
(Acipenser oxyrinchus oxyrinchus) as endangered under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) of 1973, as amended. We have reviewed the status of the
species and conservation efforts being made to protect the species, considered public and peer review comments, and we have made our determination that
the Carolina and South Atlantic DPSs are in danger of extinction throughout their ranges, and should be listed as endangered, based on the best available
scientific and commercial data.
DATES: This final rule is effective April 6, 2012."

 

SHORTNOSE STURGEON present official status: Endangered (Florida); Endangered (Federal).

NOTE: There were 12 verified catches of SHORTNOSE STURGEON from the St. Johns River Basin between 1949 & 2002.

 

Bacon and Black (1891) navigation survey report:
"Table No I...
Velocity per hour for lower river...miles...0.90...
Maximum velocity per hour...........do.....1.20..."
 
NOTE: The "lower river" refers to the Ocklawaha (in 1891) from "Silver Spring Run 53.1 miles" downstream to the "St. Johns River 0.0 miles." "Velocity per hour" means the speed of the river current (stream velocity) which was measured by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (in 1891) at an average of 0.90 mph (1.32 feet per second [fps]) with a maximum of 1.20 mph (1.76 fps).

 

Trump (1977) in a Daytona Beach Morning Journal newspaper article:

"Official word has been received in the office of Larry Hartzog, biologist for the Florida Fresh Water Fish and Game Commission [sic], that the shortnose sturgeon recently sent to Dr. Carter Gilbert, a taxonomic ichthyologist at the University of Florida and curator of fish for the museum at the University, has been authenticated by Dr. Gilbert.
"This particular catch by a commercial fisherman had been tentatively identified by Hartzog as the shortnose sturgeon (Acipenser brevirostrum) and measured 21 inches and weighed two pounds. Dr. Gilbert says this species of sturgeon has not been knowingly caught in Florida waters since the 1940's. There is to be a seminar at the university regarding this rare find.
"The only other sturgeon found in Florida waters is the Atlantic sturgeon (Acipenser oxyrhynchus) ranging from New York to Florida. It is strictly an anadromous fish, living in salt water and going to fresh water to spawn, in comparison to the shortnose sturgeon primarily found in tidal waters and spawning in fresh water. Fishing scientists feel this may be a threatened species in the St. Johns River."
 
Hoehn (1998):
"The shortnose sturgeon is an anadromous species that spends most of its life in estuarine areas and migrates up coastal rivers to spawn. Primary spawning areas are non-silty, flowing waters with a rocky, gravel, or hard substrate, where the eggs are broadcast and adhere to the bottom substrate. Suitable spawning substrate is very limited or marginal within its Florida range. Spawning habitat may have been available in the Oklawaha River..."
 
National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) & U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (1998):

"Florida Rivers - Historical populations were reportedly present in the St. Marys, St. Johns, and

possibly, the St. Augustine and St. Lucie Rivers; but, it is unknown whether these were limited to migrating fish or if reproduction also occurred in these rivers. No evidence exists for the current presence of any Atlantic sturgeon in these systems."

 

"St. Johns River, FL - The lack of Atlantic sturgeon captures (scientific sampling and as bycatch in other fisheries) in the St. Johns River indicate that they no longer exist in the St. Johns River. Additionally, there is no documentation that spawning ever took place in this river."

 

"St. Johns River, FL - Rodman Dam construction, which blocked access to potential spawning habitat, would have eliminated any spawning population if one was present."

 

Florida Natural Areas Inventory (2001) webpage:

"Breeding habitat in the St. Johns River basin was eliminated by the construction of the Rodman Dam. Because this species does not undergo coastal migrations, the St. Johns River population of shortnose sturgeon may be extinct or is likely to become extinct in the near future."


"The conservation of this and other anadromous species in the St. Johns River will likely require the removal of the Rodman Dam and restoration of the Oklawaha River."


Clugston (2002):

"Endangered shortnose sturgeon and Atlantic sturgeon, not discussed previously in this review, were once present in the St. Johns River. It appears shortnose sturgeon and Atlantic sturgeon were last collected from the St. Johns River by the State of Florida in 1981 (Fred Cross, Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission to K. J. Sulak, USGS, personal communication). However, a shortnose sturgeon with a Georgia DNR tag was reported from the St. Johns River near Palatka in 2000 (Susan Shipman, Georgia DNR to K. J. Sulak, USGS, personal communication). Recent anecdotal information from commercial fishermen indicate some Atlantic sturgeon are still present (K. J. Sulak, USGS, personal communication). It is unknown whether either species ever reproduced in the St. Johns River system. However, if they did spawn, the undammed Ocklawaha River was the only waters in the entire system that appear to provide habitat suitable for sturgeon spawning. Removal of the Rodman Dam would permit the anadromous and catadromous species to return to waters that historically were essential to their life cycles."

 

FWC (2003e) webpage about Atlantic sturgeon:

"Range - From Canada down the Atlantic Coast to the St. Johns River..."

"Habitat - Stays primarily in shallow offshore waters but come in to the rivers to spawn."

"Spawning Habits - Spawning takes place in fresh water (anadromous) when temperatures approach 64 degrees Fahrenheit. The demersal eggs take about a week to hatch. The young may stay in fresh water up to five years and females take 5-30 years to mature. Even then, they only spawn every 3-5 years and so are very vulnerable to over fishing."

 

FWC (2003f) webpage about shortnose sturgeon:

"Range - Shortnose sturgeon are restricted to the east coast of North America, from the St. John River in Canada, to the Indian River in Florida."

"Spawning Habits - Shortnose sturgeon have very specific spawning requirements. All spawning occurs in fresh water within a 1- to 2-week period during spring. If environmental conditions are not acceptable, shortnose sturgeon will not spawn, resorbing their eggs and milt (sperm). Females only spawn every 3 to 5 years after reaching sexual maturity at age 8 to 12. Males may spawn every year after reaching age 6 to 10."

 

Hill (2006) Smithsonian Marine Station webpage about shortnose sturgeon:
"A variety of substrates are utilized for spawning, and include areas of gravel, mixed sand-gravel, rubble, or even large boulders (Dadswell et al. 1984). However, water velocity and depth are perhaps more important than substrate type in determining spawning location (Buckley and Kynard 1985). Current velocities are generally low to moderate on spawning grounds, typically with the range of 40 – 60 cm/sec (1.3 - 2 feet/sec)."

 

"Five shortnose sturgeon were collected in the St. Johns River, Florida in the late 1970's (Dadswell et al. 1984) and, in 1981, three sturgeon were collected and released by the Florida Game and Freshwater Fish Commission. Interestingly, none of the collections were recorded from the estuarine portion of the system; all captures occurred far upstream in an area heavily influenced by artesian springs with high mineral content."

 

FWC (2009):

"Shortnose Sturgeon (Acipenser brevirostrum)

This species is a federally designated endangered species and is under the authority of the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS). Florida records in recent years are limited to the capture of a specimen tagged in Georgia, which was recovered in the Ocklawaha River. A second 834 mm total length mature female was collected in a cast net at the end of the North jetty in Ponce Inlet, Volusia County on March 16, 1999 (Specimen in collection of the Fish and Wildlife Research Institute catalogued as FSBC 19118). The FWC does not manage this species and collections/possession must be federally authorized."

 
Patterson (2010) in a Florida Times-Union newspaper article:

"Atlantic sturgeon don't spawn in the St. Johns River, but a protective rule the fisheries service drafted last month says young sturgeon born elsewhere were recorded using the St. Johns as a nursery in the 1970s and '80s. The agency said more than 60 percent of the possible sturgeon habitat around the St. Johns was blocked by construction of the Rodman dam, which controls water entering the river from the Ocklawaha River."

 

FWC (2011):

"Florida presently has no documented breeding population of Atlantic sturgeon in either the St. Johns or St. Marys Rivers."


NMFS (2011) webpage about Atlantic sturgeon:

"Atlantic sturgeon are 'anadromous'; adults spawn in freshwater in the spring and early summer and migrate into 'estuarine' and marine waters where they spend most of their lives. In some southern rivers a fall spawning migration may also occur. They spawn in moderately flowing water (46-76 cm/s) in deep parts of large rivers. Sturgeon eggs are highly adhesive and are deposited on bottom substrate, usually on hard surfaces (e.g., cobble). It is likely that cold, clean water is important for proper larval development." NOTE: 46 cm/s = 1.03 MPH current.
 
NMFS (2011) Endangered Species Act Section 7 Consultation:
"Shortnose sturgeon and largetooth sawfish historically occupied waters within the action area for the proposed action and therefore have the possibility of being present during research activities. Specifically, shortnose sturgeon historically occupied the St. John’s and St. Mary’s rivers in Florida while largetooth sawfish were historically reported along the Texas coast and east into Florida waters."
 
"Rivers known to have current spawning populations within this proposed DPS include the Combahee, Edisto, Savannah, Ogeechee, Altamaha, and Satilla Rivers while the Broad Coosawatchie, St. Marys, and St. Johns rivers have been documented to have spawning populations in the past or have evidence that spawning may have occurred at one time (ASSRT, 2007)."
 
"There have also been reports of Atlantic sturgeon tagged in the Edisto River (South Carolina) being recaptured in the St. Johns River, indicating this river may serve as a nursery ground; however, there are no data to support the existence of a current spawning population in the St. Johns (Rogers and Weber, 1995; Kahnle et al., 1998). Nevertheless, the best available evidence suggests that Atlantic sturgeon are found within these rivers so NMFS will assume that Atlantic sturgeon are utilizing these river systems for one or more essential life functions for the purposes of this consultation."
 
"Dams for hydropower generation, flood control, and navigation adversely affect Atlantic sturgeon habitat by impeding access to spawning, developmental and foraging habitat, modifying free-flowing rivers to reservoirs, physically damaging fish on upstream and downstream migrations, and altering water quality in the remaining downstream portions of spawning and nursery habitat. Attempts to minimize the impacts of dams using measures such as fish passage have not proven beneficial to Atlantic sturgeon, as they do not regularly use existing fish passage devices, which are generally designed to pass pelagic fish (ASSRT, 2007)....Therefore, it is likely that dam operations are negatively affecting Atlantic sturgeon nursery habitat and impeding the ability of the species to recover in the wild."
 
"Since a large portion of the historical sturgeon habitat in the St. Johns River has already been curtailed by the presence of a dam, ongoing dredging activities remain a threat to suitable habitat that remains in this river."
 
"Historically, Atlantic sturgeon likely accessed all parts of the St. Johns River; however, the construction of Kirkpatrick Dam (originally Rodman Dam) has restricted migration and blocked access to potential spawning habitat upstream. Water quality in this system also seems to be degraded, and low dissolved oxygen is a common occurrence during the summer months when water temperatures rise. Dredging commonly occurs throughout the action area to maintain navigation channels and these activities have been linked to the reduction in submerged aquatic vegetation where Atlantic sturgeon likely forage (Jordan, 2002)."
 
FWC (2012) webpage about shortnose sturgeon:

"No reproduction of sturgeon in the St. Johns River has ever been documented, and no large adults have been positively identified (all known specimens have been less than ten pounds)." 

 
 

REFERENCES

 

Bacon, J. H. & W. M. Black. 1891. "Report of the Chief of Engineers, U.S. Army; Appendix O - Report of Captain Black (page 1623); Improvement of the Ocklawaha River, Florida; Report of Mr. J. H. Bacon, Assistant Engineer, United States Engineer Department, St. Augustine, Fla., May 11, 1891." U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

http://books.google.com/books?id=A35NAAAAYAAJ&pg=PA1621&lpg=PA1621&dq=%22Report+of+the+Chief+of+Engineers%22+%22Ocklawaha+River%22+%221891%22&source=bl&ots=uvsoNDrZU9&sig=ho0B2VciR_L1HXfK_RtZf05QKFY&hl=en&ei=veZHToj2Ferp0QHZ5rWECA&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=1&sqi=2&ved=0CBkQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&q&f=false (last accessed 3-31-13).

 
Bass, D. G. & V. Guillory. 1976. Cross Florida barge canal restudy report; fisheries study (Volume 1, 2, 3). Florida Game & Fresh Water Fish Commission (FL GFC), Tallahassee (TAL), FL. Available as a hardcopy.

 

Bester, C. 2011. "Striped Mullet" webpage. Florida Museum of Natural History, Gainesville, FL.

http://www.flmnh.ufl.edu/fish/Gallery/Descript/StripedMullet/StripedMullet.html (last accessed 12-11-11).

 

Clugston, J. P. 2002. Fishes of the Ocklawaha River, Florida. Florida Defenders of the Environment, Gainesville, FL. Available as a hardcopy.

 

Dugan, C. C.; R. W. Hagood & T. A. Frakes. 1975. Development of spawning and mass larval rearing techniques for brackish-freshwater shrimps of the genus Macrobrachium (Decapoda Palaemonidae). Florida Marine Research Publication 12. Florida Department of Natural Resources, TAL, FL.

http://aquaticcommons.org/777/1/FMRP012.pdf (last accessed 12-11-11).

 

Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP). 2002a. Silver River State Park unit management plan: Approved plan; April 25, 2002 (page 29). FDEP, TAL, FL. Available as an archived PDF file.
 
FDEP. 2002b. Basin status report: Ocklawaha (page 148). FDEP, TAL, FL.
 
FDEP. 2010. Silver River State Park unit management plan: Approved plan; December 10, 2010 (page 43). FDEP, TAL, FL.
http://www.dep.state.fl.us/parks/planning/parkplans/SilverRiverStatePark.pdf (last accessed 10-21-12).
 
Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC). 2003a. "Channel Catfish" webpage. FWC, TAL, FL.

http://floridafisheries.com/fishes/catfish.html (Available as a hardcopy printed 2-7-03).

 

FWC. 2003b. "White Catfish" webpage. FWC, TAL, FL.

http://floridafisheries.com/fishes/catfish.html (Available as a hardcopy printed 2-7-03).

 

FWC. 2003c. "American Eel" webpage. FWC, TAL, FL.

http://floridafisheries.com/fishes/other.html (Available as a hardcopy printed 2-10-03).

 

FWC. 2003d. "American Shad" webpage. FWC, TAL, FL.

http://floridafisheries.com/fishes/other.html (Available as a hardcopy printed 2-10-03).

 

FWC. 2003e. "Atlantic Sturgeon" webpage. FWC, TAL, FL.

http://floridafisheries.com/fishes/other.html (Available as a hardcopy printed 2-10-03).

 

FWC. 2003f. "Shortnose Sturgeon" webpage. FWC, TAL, FL.

http://floridafisheries.com/fishes/other.html (Available as a hardcopy printed 2-10-03).

 

FWC. 2009. Marine prohibited species policy (September 2009). FWC, TAL, FL.

http://myfwc.com/media/290191/SAL_MarineProhibitedSpeciesPolicy.pdf (last accessed 3-29-13).

 

FWC. 2011. Biological status review for the Atlantic sturgeon (Acipenser oxyrinchus oxyrinchus) March 31, 2011. FWC, TAL, FL. 


FWC. 2012. "Shortnose sturgeon population evaluation in the St. Johns River, Florida" webpage. FWC, TAL, FL. 


Florida Natural Areas Inventory. 2001. "Shortnose sturgeon Acipenser brevirostrum" webpage. Field Guide to the Rare Animals of Florida. Florida Natural Areas Inventory, TAL, FL. http://fwcg.myfwc.com/docs/shortnosed_sturgeon.pdf (last accessed 2-27-12).


Gilmore, R. G., PhD. 2012. "The most important fish in Florida: mullet, we owe you gratitude" article. "Sportsman's biologist" column. Florida Sportsman magazine (July 2012, page 71), Stuart, FL. Available at: http://www.thefreelibrary.com/The+most+important+fish+in+Florida%3A+mullet,+we+owe+you+gratitude.-a0295420882

 
Hill, K. 2006. "Species name: Acipenser brevirostrum. Common name: shortnose sturgeon" webpage. Smithsonian Marine Station website, Ft. Pierce, FL. http://www.sms.si.edu/irlspec/acipes_brevir.htm (last accessed 3-31-13).
 
Hoehn, T.S. 1998. Rare and Imperiled Fish Species of Florida: A Watershed Perspective. FL GFC, TAL, FL. http://fwcg.myfwc.com/docs/Rare_Fish_Guidelines_Hoehn.pdf (last accessed 3-31-13).

Jordan, F. 1994. Environmental studies concerning four alternatives for Rodman Reservoir and the lower Ocklawaha River (Volume 1 Executive summary & Volume 14 Ocklawaha River migratory fish assessment). St. Johns River Water Management District (SJRWMD), Palatka (PAL), FL. Available as a hardcopy.

 

Martin, R. A. 1966. Eternal spring. Man's 10,000 Years of History at Florida's Silver Springs. "Chapter 9 - The Fishes of Silver Springs" by Ross Allen. Florida’s Silver Springs, Inc. (1966). Great Outdoors Press, Inc., St. Petersburg, FL. 264 pp. Available as a hardcopy book.

 

Moody, H. 1963. "Fishing and boating facts: The St. Johns River" article. Florida Wildlife magazine (August 1963, page 21-27). FL GFC, TAL, FL. Available as a hardcopy.

 

Munch, D. A.; D. J. Toth, C. Huang, J. B. Davis, C. M. Fortich, W. L. Osburn, E. J. Phlips, E. L. Quinlan, M. S. Allen, M. J. Woods, P. Cooney, R. L. Knight, R. A. Clarke & S. L. Knight. 2007. Fifty-year retrospective study of the ecology of Silver Springs, Florida. Special publication SJ2007-SP4. SJRWMD, PAL, FL.

http://www.sjrwmd.com/technicalreports/pdfs/SP/SJ2007-SP4.pdf (last accessed 12-11-11).

 

National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) & U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS). 1998. Status review of Atlantic sturgeon (Acipenser oxyrinchus oxyrinchus). NMFS & USFWS. http://pearl.maine.edu/windows/penobscot/pdfs/atl_sturgeon.pdf

(last accessed 12-11-11).

 
NMFS. 2011. "Atlantic Sturgeon (Acipenser oxyrinchus oxyrinchus)" webpage. NMFS, Office of Protected Resources, Silver Spring, MD.
 
NMFS. 2011. The proposal to issue permit modification No. 13330-01 to NMFS' Southeast Fisheries Science Center for research on the biology, distribution, and abundance of smalltooth sawfish along the coast of Florida. NMFS, Office of Protected Resources, Silver Spring, MD.
http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/pdfs/consultations/biop_permit13301-01_modification.pdf (last accessed 5-8-13).
Patterson, S. 2010. "Sturgeon spawn area considered in the St. Marys" article. Florida Times-Union newspaper (26 November 2010), Jacksonville, FL.

http://jacksonville.com/news/georgia/2010-11-26/story/sturgeon-spawn-area-considered-st-marys

(last accessed 12-11-11).
 
Trump, B. V. 1977. "Crescent City news and chatterbox" article. Daytona Beach Morning Journal newspaper (11 June 1977, page 18), Daytona Beach, FL.
http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=dQIuAAAAIBAJ&sjid=V8oEAAAAIBAJ&pg=2501,3805142&dq=atlantic-sturgeon+st-johns-river&hl=en (last accessed 5-28-12).
 
 
 
 
REFERENCE AS:  Nosca, P. 2013. "Other migratory fish and crustacean species of the Ocklawaha River, Florida" webpage report. "Ocklawahaman" website. Paul Nosca, Eureka, FL. https://sites.google.com/site/ocklawahaman/other-migratory-fish-of-the-ocklawaha-river-fl
 

 

 
 
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Paul Nosca,
Mar 31, 2013, 1:01 PM
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