Officials at Vermont Fish & Wildlife had an unexpected reunion recently with a lake sturgeon first captured in Lake Champlain in 1998.
The fish, which was accidentally captured by the department while conducting routine survey work on the Lamoille River in late May, is a male sturgeon that was first tagged when it was 29 years old. Today it is 48.
"It’s a really interesting story to see this fish 19 years later, and another great example of the incredible longevity that the species is known for,” said Chet MacKenzie, a fisheries biologist with Vermont Fish & Wildlife.
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The rare sturgeon was implanted with an acoustic tag which will allow the department to follow its movements for up to 10 years. Wildlife officials started monitoring lake sturgeon in 2016 in an effort to reduce mortality and improve spawning and nursery habitat.
Lake sturgeon are listed as an endangered species by the state of Vermont and are protected from harvest. The lake sturgeon population in Lake Champlain is the only in New England.