VCU receives NOAA grant to study biology and ecology of iconic fish

The Virginia Commonwealth University Rice Center and VCU Center for Environmental Studies have received a research grant from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to understand the biology and ecology of the Atlantic sturgeon, an iconic fish found in the Chesapeake Bay region.

The Atlantic sturgeon is a federally endangered species, and its recovery is managed by NOAA’s Office of Protected Resources. The VCU Rice Center has developed a national reputation for its work on Atlantic sturgeon and other migratory fishes that depend on the James River estuary.

During the three-year project, VCU will receive approximately $700,000 in federal funding and equipment to develop and deploy cutting-edge acoustic telemetry and GIS technologies to track migrating sturgeon and determine habitat preferences in real time. This work is part of a larger $2.3 million research effort focused on the Chesapeake Bay and supported by NOAA. Other institutions involved include the University of Maryland and the Virginia Institute of Marine Science.

As a result of this award, the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Council has invited VCU fish biologists to serve as technical advisers on a national sturgeon recovery panel this fall.

Additionally, a third Atlantic sturgeon spawning reef will be constructed in the James River. VCU Rice Center biologists will conduct post-construction monitoring of the reef, which will be constructed by the James River Association in partnership with Luck Stone Corporation.

Read more about VCU sturgeon restoration initiatives:

Saving the Fish that Saved Jamestown:

A Personal Stake:

Historical Significance of the Atlantic sturgeon:

VCU Rice Center Part of Effort to Restore Atlantic Sturgeon to the James River

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Matt Balazik, VCU Rice Center researcher, handles an Atlantic sturgeon on the James River.
Matt Balazik, VCU Rice Center researcher, handles an Atlantic sturgeon on the James River.